Sony has announced its virtual reality headset for PlayStation 4, codenamed Project Morpheus, at a GDC 2014 event entitled 'Driving the Future of Innovation'. Morpheus has been designed to look futuristic with a black and white colour scheme which glows in tints of blue. The VR headset is a visor style head mounted display with 1080p resolution and a 90 degree field of view. The VR experience is delivered by the accelerometer and gyroscope sensors built into the head mounted unit, which integrates with the PlayStation Camera as its tracks the player's head orientation and movement.
"Virtual reality is the next innovation from PlayStation that may well shape the future of video games," said Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios at the 2014 GDC in San Francisco. "VR has been the dream of many game creators ever since the first computer game. Many of us have dreamed about VR and what it could mean for the games that we create."
Although the headset has been in development for the past three years, it is still currently in prototype form. The prototype uses a 5 meter cable connecting the headset via HDMI and USB, but Sony has plans to make it wireless. The company has also told us that the headset does not put weight on a user's nose or cheeks and is designed to allow for airflow without the lenses fogging up.
The prototype is currently being shown off at GDC with demos of Thief and EVE Valkyrie (which is also in development for its competition VR headset Oculus Rift). Sony is also demonstrating the headset with some of its own tech demos including; The Castle which utilises the PS Move controller, and The Deep which allows users to observe the dangerous waters from inside a shark proof cage.
Current specifications of the prototype are listed below, although Sony underlined that these are subject to change:
- Component: Processor unit, head-mounted unit
- Display Method: LCD
- Panel Size: 5 inches
- Panel Resolution: 1920×RGB×1080 (960×RGB×1080 per eye)
- Field of View: 90 degrees
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, 1000Hz motion detection
- Connection interface: HDMI + USB
- Function: 3D audio, Social Screen
One of Project Morpheus's creators, Richard Marks, has highlighted six major areas which need to work together in order for a VR headset to operate to its full potential. These include sight, sound, tracking, control, ease of use and content.
Marks explained that the application of VR is likely to extend beyond the gaming industry in the near future and that Sony is working with NASA to create user experiences of what it is like to stand on Mars, employing real images and other data collected from the Mars Rover. Looking at more mundane future applications "VR is going to be pervasive," Marks reasoned, "It could even be used to pick out a hotel room for your next trip by visiting a virtual version of that room."