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The last time I tried to use vim in virtual reality was in 2014 with the Oculus DK2, which had a resolution of 960 x 1080 per eye. It didn’t look or feel good at all.

The latest devices from Valve and HTC offer 1440x1600 per eye, and the HP Reverb apparently does 2160x2160 per eye.

Can anyone report on recent experiences? Or take a guess as to whether or not one could code comfortably at that resolution?

Is there to work out what resolution you’d need to make the experience equivalent to working on a (small) 4k monitor, given the fact that the VR displays are much closer to your eyes?


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    I do about an hour long development session in VR a day in safespaces, switching between (Rift CV1, VIve, Vive Pro).

    This might boil down to eyes and habits – but even on the CV1, text itself hasn’t bothered me; I run a large font and with head rotation (no position) it’s fine. What is worse is the other ergonomics - heat, strain on eyes and neck from the light and weight of the display.

    I just received a HP Reverb in the mail, but currently it does not work with the OpenHMD WMR driver (orientation tracking fires up, front cameras and display does not), but I am very interested to see how well it does display wise (everything else is just a copy of what the Rift does).

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      Rik Arends has been working on makepad which he describes as “Makepad is a Rust IDE for VR that compiles to wasm/webGL, osx/metal, windows/dx11 linux/opengl”.

      I have an Oculus Quest, which is also 1600x1440 per eye. It’s a completely wireless, standalone unit which is great, and Makepad is being built to run on it. I quite like it for games and experiences like that, but text wouldn’t be super sharp. That said, Rik has been actively working on this stuff, and I’m just guessing what the experience might be like.

      If I’m actually coding something for VR, I think it could be awesome. But I don’t think I’d find much value in it over a 2D interface for normal coding.

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        Thanks for the link to Makepad! I’ll be excitedly following along.

        The main advantage I see to using VR for coding (in a traditional setup with a text editor, not some awesome visualisation of your software) is “real estate”. I use two 4k 27” monitors, but I’ve worked with three before in an office (before the company ran out of money, go figure) and found it even better. I like being able to see different parts of my code side by side.

        I’m envisioning coding in VR to be like having a whole bunch of seamless monitors floating around my head.

        I work from home now, but if I worked in an open plan office the distraction-elimination aspect of VR would be a big plus. Imagine working in a Japanese Zen garden instead of being surrounded by other people under flourescent lighting!

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          Sorry for a super delayed reply…

          I think that VR needs a whole lot more pixels before we’ll get to that sort of feeling. I like the image you’re projecting, and would love to see that happen but the hardware definitely has a ways to go.

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            For sure. After doing more research I found that the useful metric here is “pixels per degree”. Retina devices do ~60. Anything higher isn’t really noticeable by humans. Mainstream VR devices don’t even crack 20.

            Worse, Carmack said in his Oculus keynote last year that up until now they’ve been riding the coattails of the phone industry, but from now on will have to foot the bill for developing higher pixel density screens.

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        Seems like at this point if anything is technically workable it’s still tied into the ecosystem of an abusive megacorp and probably something you’re better off avoiding at all costs. Having Facebook in your pocket is bad enough; imagine having Facebook strapped to your actual face!

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          I’m going to decouple the abusive megacorp association here and say any consumptive all-the-time VR experience is bad. But..VR in it’s current state isn’t that at all. It seems like it’s current expense and clunkyness enables presenting interesting short-term experiences.

          Jaron Lanier talks about this in his Virtual Futures interview (late 2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDRN_dZNJUM&feature=youtu.be&t=32m15s

          As far as coding with VR, I haven’t kept up with that realm (haven’t personally used VR much). Hardware aside, things that come to mind are:



          EleVR’s turtle vr programming demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F6lXqXlc_c

          Autodesk Exploring Spatially Situated Visual Programming : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn8sBvKHHYk https://www.darknetgame.com

          https://medium.com/@normalvr/working-remotely-in-vr-ar-cadf467c0f39 (found via: https://johnpalmer.site/#/spatialinterfaces )

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            Thanks for the excellent links. Reading now!

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            It looks like there’s healthy competition in the headset space, and some of it from newcomers. I wouldn’t be surprised if headsets end up being as commoditized as monitors.

            What concrete bad things are you imagining re abusive megacorp being strapped to your face? E.g. with phones, leaking location info is terrible for privacy. But what is it about the form factor of VR headsets that worries you?

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              A simple and “very much already here” example that isn’t even in the darker side of the spectrum: raw sensor streams from the headset is really good biometrics even before the much needed step of eye tracking. Forensic gait analysis is very much a thing using surveillance footage alone. The accelerometers in smart phones has been used for similar means for a long time, but with HMDs the precision and accuracy is necessarily better - the use case demands it.

              If you control the entire platform, you can make sure that you get the raw sensor stream that can be used to identify the VR user and correlate it to otherwise unassociated footage via their gait (and whatever the next feature extraction of to-be-named biometrics will be called). At the same time, you “protect” the users by filtering its avatar re-projection in the shared social VR space where others could otherwise perform the same collection, and increase the value of your collected unfiltered raw samples.

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                But what is it about the form factor of VR headsets that worries you?

                Not OP, but…

                VR headsets control literally everything you see and hear, and a decent amount of what you feel too. The entire goal of the product is to make you think that something fake is real. Even with movies, advertisers figured out that if you quickly flash an image of e.x. popcorn, people will be more likely to buy it. That, scaled up with AI/ML and modern knowledge of the brain is even scarier in a VR format.

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              Most headsets aren’t really ready for interacting with small text for extended periods yet. The Rift S is usable for in-game interfaces, and the screen-door effect isn’t very noticable, but there’s always a “sweet spot” you need to find with headset adjustment to make text legible, and it’s not really as comfortable as just looking at a regular monitor.

              Maybe the HP Reverb is approaching usable, but I haven’t tried it. I’m excited at the possibilities but still skeptical short-term.

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                Yeah, something that makes me less sanguine than I was previously is a comment by Carmack in last year’s Oculus keynote where he says that previously phones were driving small displays to be better and better, but now they’ve reached a point where quality improvements go unnoticed by consumers, so “VR companies will have to foot the bill” for higher PPI screens.

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                Remember that the pixels go to cover your entire field of view, but eyes focus only on a small part of it at a time.

                I have Valve Index and the resolution is finally good enough for games, but it’s still far from being sharp for text. It’s like a 720p monitor.

                The refresh rate and tracking quality make it usable for longer sessions, but it’s still hot and bulky thing on my face that I wouldn’t want to wear all day.