Dr Shuaiwen Leon Song

Designing planet-scale VR

Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney; PhD (Computer Science), Virginia Tech

A truely immersive virtual reality experience is on the horizon.

Consumers in the coming era of technological change will want access to a commercial virtual reality (VR) product that can lift them to an alternate fantasy dimension: a true immersive experience without mobility restriction and periodic motion anomalies.

This product is ‘planet-scale VR’, a concept that would permit users around the world, regardless of their hardware and network conditions, to use this technology.

For this to become reality, users will require exceptional visual quality-of-experience from an edge-powered untethered mobile-rendered VR head-mounted display (HMD). This is the equivalent quality to that provided by high-end tethered contemporary VR systems, such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

“We hope this innovation can help commercial partners to develop such products in a short period of time."

Due to the quality-of-experience constraints on mobile VR’s responsiveness, frame rate and power consumption, neither local edge-processing nor cloud rendering reaches the real-time requirements for an immersive VR environment.

To achieve this vision, University of Sydney Senior Lecturer Dr Shuaiwen Leon Song and his team of six researchers from the University of Sydney, the University of Washington Seattle and Pacific Northwest National Lab created a world-first VR accelerator system that represents a new class of hardware system.

This system involves collaborating accelerators that are co-designed and placed strategically at the cloud and edge in order to address the latency and bandwidth challenges of the contemporary cloud-client model.

“Inspired by the concept of foveated computing, my team has innovated a software-hardware co-design for a lightweight and fast AI-based cloud-edge collaborated VR simulation prototype to enable this revolutionary technology,” Song says.

“We hope this innovation can help commercial partners to develop such products in a short period of time that considers mobile hardware performance, network evolution as well as cloud server design.”

Song expects the innovation to have a signifi cant impact on the entire world. He sees a scenario where VR service occurs indiscriminately across planet-sized scale.

Judges’ comments:

“Interesting research to improve virtual reality performance. Any work that can improve the functionality of this technology will have wide-ranging implications.”

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