Feature helps to mask dropped frames, aims for a more comfortable experience

The endless march to VR dominance continues, albeit hushed slightly from how it was a couple of years ago, with Valve’s SteamVR adding in a motion smoothing feature.

It’s available as an opt-in beta, so expect some issues while kinks are ironed out, but the feature aims to smooth out your playing experience – making for more comfortable VR play sessions, and games that generally just look better.

Usually motion smoothing is the first thing any person with sense turns off on their TV – it’s the thing that gives shows the ‘American soap opera’ look. But in the case of VR, where our sensitive brains are being exposed to something that requires them be given a bit of help to not make us vomit everywhere/collapse, it’s definitely necessary.

As the Steam blog post states, it’s a bit more complex than that: “The way we are applying Motion Smoothing in SteamVR is a bit different [to the TV version]. 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.”

Currently motion smoothing does not work with Oculus Rift or Windows Mixed Reality headsets, owing to the differing display drivers/technical issues that come with that.

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