SteamVR Adds Support For Valve Index, Motion Smoothing For Recent AMD GPUs

Valve Index Lenses Headset

The latest update to SteamVR this week brings a range of new features, improvements, and fixes.

Valve Index Support

The main content of this update is the drivers for the upcoming Valve Index VR headset and its controllers. It also includes setup and tutorial UI and assets for Index.

It also adds support for headsets with switchable refresh rate, such as the Index. Index is set to 120Hz by default, but can be set by the user to 80, 90, 120, or 144. 144 Hz is considered “Experimental”. A higher refresh rate can make head and object motion in VR feel more smooth than before.

Motion Smoothing For AMD

Motion Smoothing is Valve’s equivalent to Asynchronous Spacewarp. When your GPU isn’t maintaining framerate in VR, Motion Smoothing kicks in automatically. It forces the running app to render at half the refresh rate of the headset and generates a synthetic frame after each real frame. So when Motion Smoothing is engaged, half the frames are real and half are synthetic. Whenever performance returns to normal, Motion Smoothing deactivates and the app returns to normal rendering.

Motion Smoothing launched back in November. However, before now it only worked on NVIDIA GPUs. Valve stated at the time that AMD support was coming, and now it’s here. It won’t work on older R9 cards — you’ll need an RX or Vega GPU. If you bought a GPU before 2017 you’re probably out of luck. This should noticeably improve the VR experience for owners of cards like the RX 570, especially in demanding games.

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SteamVR Update Brings Motion Smoothing, Easier Keybinding & More

Valve has released the 1.1.3 update to the SteamVR SDK, and along with it comes a host of long-awaited improvements such as Motion Smoothing, easier access to Valve’s custom controller keybinding utility, and a few more bits and bobs that should make at least a few people happy.

Previously available via the SteamVR beta branch, now all HTC Vive users will have default access to Motion Smoothing, the company’s version of Oculus’ Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW). When engaged, the utility uses previous frames to synthesize new frames during gameplay, allowing VR applications to chug along while running visibly smoother and more comfortably even when your computer struggles and begins dropping frames.

Long story short: Motion Smoothing halves your framerate to 45 fps when the system dips below 90 fps, inserting a synthetic frame that’s calculated quickly enough to serve to the headset where a dropped frame would otherwise fit. It’s not a cure-all, but a welcome solution for HTC Vive users with lower-spec computers. Like Valve’s Motion Smoothing, Oculus’ ASW has made a significant difference for users at, or right on the edge of the minimum spec, letting them play games with a degree of comfort that wasn’t possible beforehand.

Just like in the beta, users can always turn it off by going to  ‘Settings’ > ‘Video’ or ‘Settings’ > ‘Applications’ to specify when it should be enabled. Valve’s Motion Smoothing tech only works with HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro; both Oculus Rift and Windows VR headsets have their own driver-specific techniques for doing this.

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Reminder: Motion Smoothing is only available for users running Windows 10 with an NVIDIA GPU currently. The company hasn’t given an ETA on when to expect support for AMD graphics cards.

There’s also good news for SteamVR users who make regular use of Valve’s key binding utility, which lets you map custom keys and buttons for any controller regardless of whether it has official support or not. The UI is now available on the desktop application, found under the ‘Devices’ sub-menu in the ‘SteamVR’ pop-up utility window.

Image captured by Road to VR

Users can also rename actions for applications which do not yet have native SteamVR Input support, and create simulated actions for trigger pulls or trackpad clicks.

As stated in the OpenVR github changelog, native support for VR treadmills is now also live. According to Valve’s Jemery Selan, SteamVR now lets a driver specify that a device is intended to function as a treadmill.

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Skeletal Input, or Valve’s developer-focused set of lifelike skeleton-based animations for Knuckles, Vive wands and Oculus Touch, has also been improved in the 1.1.3 update, bringing an improved hand pose used in the ’empty hand’ range of motion to all of the aforementioned controllers.

The OpenVR changelog referenced above also holds a few interesting bits of info here too, as Valve has classified its Skeletal Input into three levels of interaction: Estimated, Partial, and Full skeletal tracking.

Estimated: body part location can’t be directly determined by the device. Any skeletal pose provided by the device is estimated by assuming the position required to active buttons, triggers, joysticks, or other input sensors. e.g. Vive Controller, Gamepad

Partial: body part location can be measured directly but with fewer degrees of freedom than the actual body part. Certain body part positions may be unmeasured by the device and estimated from other input data. e.g. Knuckles, gloves that only measure finger curl

Full: body part location can be measured directly throughout the entire range of motion of the body part. e.g. Mocap suit for the full body, gloves that measure rotation of each finger segment

You can check out the full list of updates in SteamVR 1.1.3 here.

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SteamVR: Bewegungsglättung für HTC Vive verlässt Beta-Phase

Ein neues Update auf SteamVR bringt das Beta-Feature Motion Smoothing für HTC Vive auf die Live-Server und steht damit ab sofort allen Nutzer/innen zur Verfügung. Die Funktion ermöglicht massive Performance-Optimierungen für neue und ältere PCs, indem automatisch künstliche Frames bei einem Framedrop erzeugt werden.

SteamVR – Motion Smoothing für HTC Vive ab sofort verfügbar

Das Motion Smoothing (deutsch: Bewegungsglättung) ist Valves Antwort auf den Asynchronous SpaceWarp von Oculus. Da VR-Anwendungen eine Menge Rechenleistung und Bildraten von der PC-Hardware fordern, sorgt die Funktion zukünftig für eine bessere Performance. Droht ein Framedrop unter 90 FPS schaltet sich das praktische Feature ein, errechnet bei 45 FPS ein synthetisches Bild aus den letzten beiden Bildern und fügt es vor den verlorenen Frame ein. Dadurch entsteht eine deutlich flüssigere Bildrate und Nutzer/innen erhalten stets die vollen 90 Hz.

Die Vorteile zeigen sich bei alten und neuen Rechnern. So sollen leistungsschwächere Grafikkarten zukünftig in der Lage sein, flüssige Bilder innerhalb der anspruchsvollen Anwendungen zu produzieren. Und auch High-End-GPUs erzielen nun eine höhere Auflösung und eine bessere Wiedergabetreue bei sämtlichen VR-Erlebnissen.

Während die Funktion bisher nur als Beta-Feature verfügbar war, wurde sie nun mit einem neuen Update für alle Steam-Anwender/innen ausgerollt. Allerdings ist die Bewegungsglättung nur mit Nvidia-Grafikkarten unter Windows 10 kompatibel. Die Funktion aktiviert sich automatisch, sobald Bilder in einer Anwendung ausgelassen werden, und schaltet sich daraufhin selbstständig wieder aus, wenn eine stabile Bildrate erreicht wurde. Wer auf das Feature verzichten möchte, kann es unter Einstellungen -> Video oder Einstellungen -> Anwendungen deaktivieren entweder komplett ausschalten oder einschränken.

(Quellen: Steam)

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Enjoy Judder Free VR With SteamVR Motion Smoothing

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.

HTC Vive ProJust 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.

Steam VR / SteamVRSteamVR 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’. For more updates to SteamVR, keep reading VRFocus.