PlayStation 4 gets a Virtual Reality upgrade

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Sony stepped into the virtual reality ring late Tuesday with the announcement of “Project Morpheus,” a VR headset for the worldwide leading PlayStation 4 video game console.

“Nothing delivers a feeling of immersion better than VR,” Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida said at the 2014 Game Developers Conference, The Verge reports. “VR has been a dream of many gamers since the computer was invented. Many of us at PlayStation have dreamed of VR and what it could mean to the gaming community.”

The prototype headset unveiled at the conference’s “Driving the Future of Innovation Event” features a full 1080p high-definition LCD display with a 90-degree field of vision, and will work in-sync with the PlayStation Camera and PlayStation Move to capture a players’ motion. Currently the device connects to the PlayStation via HDMI and USB cable input, but Sony has plans to make it wireless. The headset applies no direct weight to the face, and its design accounts for airflow to prevent screen fog.

According to Yoshida, Project Morpheus is the “culmination of our work over the last three years to realize our vision of VR for games, and to push the boundaries of play.”

The designer behind Sony’s other breakthrough interactive tech like PS EyeToy and Move Richard Marks joined Yoshida on stage to explain the six key areas behind Morpheus – sight, sound, tracking, control, use and content. Sight development draws on Sony’s storied history in HD optics, sound will feature a deep presence and immersion-rich 3D binaural tech and tracking will draw on PlayStation’s already sufficient Camera and Move devices, with everything wrapped up in a simple plug-and-play model.

The company has already solicited a list of developers, and is featuring demos of popular games at the conference already. Just one example cited by Marks was a project with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab that will put PS4 players on Mars.

“The thing that makes VR special is really the feeling of being in another place… There’s no way to explain it to you that will make sense, but it’s that feeling of presence,” Marks said. “VR is going to be pervasive, and what I mean by that is it’s going to be used for all sorts of things you might not think it would be used for.”

Though Sony is coming into VR behind impressive previously announced endeavors like Oculus VR and Valve, its undoubtedly the biggest entertainment developer to-date to show off a working prototype on what is currently the best-selling game console of the new generation. A release date has yet to be announced.

“We have seen passionate people at Oculus VR and Valve introduce VR prototypes and share their learnings,” Yoshida said. “I have an enormous amount of respect for them. This shows how all of us as an industry can rally around a new medium like VR to push gaming forward.”

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