What are Fresnel lenses and what do they mean for PSVR 2?

Last week, the PSVR 2 product page revealed a new tidbit of information about the upcoming VR headset. Sony’s new HUD will utilize Fresnel lenses rather than the traditional lenses used in the original device. It’s worth noting that this is less a step forward for the industry and more Sony catching up to a standard for VR headsets across the market. However, it seems like the new system will address some of the key issues with this lens type. But what is a Fresnel lens, and what exactly can we expect from these new panels in PlayStation VR 2? 

In short, Fresnel lenses use short, clipped ridges instead of a smooth circular design to produce the same visual effect as a traditional lens while being lighter, more flexible, and cheaper to produce. They offer better magnification and a clearer resolution that negates some of the warped light of a smoother lens. 

Fresnel lens diagram

However, because light rays are hitting a series of ridged grooves at the same time, they can bounce off in unwanted directions. This creates an optical artifact known as God Rays, small shimmers of light in the peripheral of the user’s vision.

A recent patent filing by Sony, however, reveals that PSVR 2 is set to combat this effect by adding light-absorbing sections of each lens, either in the form of a mask covering the entire panel or built directly into the ridges themselves. 

Brands like HTC and Oculus have been using Fresnel lenses for years now, but haven’t found a way to counteract the light distortion that they produce. However, if Sony does pull off its new idea, it could be catching up and one-upping its competitors in one fell swoop. 

We’re rounding up all the latest Oculus Quest 2 deals if you’re after a VR headset right now. Or, take a look at our guide to foveated rendering for more updates on the PSVR 2’s upcoming features. We’re also rounding up all the latest PlayStation VR bundles as well. 

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