After months’ worth of rumors and speculation, Sony finally unveiled their VR headset at GDC 2014. Sony President Shuhei Yoshida officially revealed the device, currently code named “Project Morpheus.”
The device itself boasts a very slick but somewhat unique design, with a screen that “hangs” down over the user’s eyes. Check out the images above for a closer look, and read on for all the details about Project Morpheus.
As Yoshida explained in the presentation, early experimentation with VR at Sony dates back several years. The company saw VR as a viable evolution for gaming and was testing out ways to capitalize on that idea as far back as 2010. But those early prototypes were very crude in nature, one device even featured a PS Move controller duct taped to a headset.
But those early tests helped inform the eventual Project Morpheus prototype. In essence, the headset incorporates both those early elements – 1080p HD headset and move sensor – but in a much cleaner, fully adjustable design. It also supports 360 degrees of motion and offers a 90+ degree field of view.
Now that they have officially spilled the beans, Sony is ready to get their device into the hands and onto the heads of developers so that they can begin crafting experiences that cater exclusively to their device. What’s more, Sony hopes that VR will extend beyond the realm of games to include all manner of immersive experiences. One example cited was a potential project with NASA where gamers can navigate the surface of Mars in a virtual reality space.
Sony didn’t have too much to say about VR games during their presentation, although they did highlight the VR support available in EVE: Valkyrie and they showed a limited demo of Thief. They also announced exclusive partnerships with games-focused companies like Epic Games, Havok, and Crytek.
Beyond third party relationships, though, Sony’s own PS4 console will reportedly be instrumental to Project Morpheus’ success. Project Morpheus will be the tool that delivers the sights and the sounds, but ultimately it will be the PS4 that renders those worlds.
Additionally, the PlayStation camera will be instrumental for head tracking when using the device. Sony even teased that the camera was developed with VR headset tracking in mind. Sony’s Dualshock 4 will be the main form of tactile control, and its light bar will further assist with the immersion.
As a final bullet point, Sony wanted to highlight the ease of use of their device, which, it should be mentioned, is currently wired. They want gamers to be able to put the device on and hop into a VR environment with little resistance. Proving that point will require some hands-on time, though, and therefore Sony plans to demo the unit on the GDC show floor later this week.
Ultimately, what Sony had to show at their GDC 2014 presentation hit most of our expectations. We got our first look at the device and now have a better idea as to how Sony would like to leverage it for gaming.
There are still plenty of questions surrounding the device – price, release date, refresh rate, etc. – many of which Sony dodged during the Q&A portion of the presentation. Their ultimate goal is a low latency, high frame rate device that is affordable and will hit store shelves as soon as possible. We’ll have to wait and see whether they meet all those goals.
What do you think of Sony’s VR headset? How do you think it compares to the Oculus Rift?