What is the Motion-to-Photon Latency?

There are many different aspects about virtual reality, most consumers won’t even give a second glance. Motion-to-photon latency is one of those aspects. Every VR user has experienced it, yet will probably have no idea what it is. Messing up this latency can cause a severe disconnect between players and their virtual environment, though.

Motion-to-Photon Latency Is Vital for VR

When one puts on a VR headset, latency is of the utmost importance. More specifically, the latency needs to be a slow as possible to create a genuine virtual experience. This is especially true when talking about the motion-to-photon latency found in VR headsets. This factor correlates to the time needed for a user’s movement to reflect on the display screen. In this case, the display within your VR headset.

To create a properly immerse VR experience, the motion-to-photon latency needs to be kept at 20ms or lower. Anything higher than that will create severe movement lag. For the human mind to be convinced it is in another place, a low motion-to-photon latency is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, it feels like you wear something on your head while still standing in the real world. It is not a pleasant experience when investing hundreds of dollars into a VR setup, to say the least.

A high motion-to-photon latency, on the other hand, will make for a rather poor VR experience. It will also cause simulator sickness and nausea. Both of these feelings are rather common in the world of virtual reality right now They ar not only caused by an increased motion-to-photon latency, though, but it can be a determining factor. Some users are more susceptible to this latency than others, that much is evident.

Improving the motion-to-photon latency can be done in different ways. A better CPU or GPU will certainly help. Additionally, optimizing the game engine and display technology can also attribute to a lower latency. It is evident one needs a powerful combination of optimized software and hardware to stay below the 20 ms threshold. Rest assured these optimizations will become more prevalent in future iterations of VR hardware and software.

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