It’s no secret that running virtual reality (VR) applications requires a reasonably powerful PC. While components at a certain specification level are a must, companies like Oculus and Valve are continually looking at ways of bringing that entry-level barrier down, reducing costs and therefore hopefully increasing the user base. Oculus was first with Asynchronous Spacewarp and then SteamVR released Asynchronous Reprojection allowing lower spec PC’s to run VR. Today, SteamVR has improved upon Asynchronous Reprojection with its new feature, SteamVR Motion Smoothing.
Just like before SteamVR Motion Smoothing is a process to help more PC’s and more players join the VR world through clever reduction of judder. Judder on a standard TV or monitor can be annoying, but in VR – for those yet to experience it – judder can be nauseating to the point where you never want to try VR again.
Where SteamVR’s Asynchronous Reprojection reduced judder by showing the last frame again (altered to fit the player’s movement), Motion Smoothing works slightly differently. Explaining in a blog posting: “When SteamVR sees that an application isn’t going to make framerate (i.e. start dropping frames), Motion Smoothing kicks in. It looks at the last two delivered frames, estimates motion and animation, and extrapolates a new frame. Synthesizing new frames keeps the current application at full framerate, advances motion forward, and avoids judder.”
That allows a player using an HTC Vive or HTC Vive Pro (the feature doesn’t work on Oculus Rift or Windows Mixed Reality headsets) to still enjoy the VR experience at the full 90 Hz framerate while the application is only rendering 1 out of 2 frames. The process can even go a stage further synthesizing 2 frames for every 1 frame to keep performance the same.
SteamVR Motion Smoothing has the double benefit that lower-end GPU’s can now render VR applications, with higher-end GPU’s now able to up the resolution even further for improved visuals.
And you don’t even need to switch the feature on. So long as you’re running a HTC Vive headset with Windows 10 and an NVIDIA GPU then SteamVR Motion Smoothing will automatically kick in when needed. To alter the options head to ‘Settings > Video’ or ‘Settings > Applications’.