Thursday, March 20, 2014

Project Morpheus, Sony's PS4 VR headset, revealed

On Tuesday, Sony unveiled its plans for a virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus (via The Verge).

During a Game Developers Conference 2014 event entitled "Driving the Future of Innovation," Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios, showed off a prototype Project Morpheus headset. HE said:
Nothing delivers a feeling of immersion better than VR. 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.
Sony also issued a press release on Wednesday.

In the press release, Yoshida added,
At SCE we view innovation as an opportunity to build on our mission to push the boundaries of play. Project Morpheus is the latest example of innovation from SCE, and we’re looking forward to its continued development and the games that will be created as development kits get into the hands of content creators.
Project Morpheus will work with the PlayStation 4, and although it is still only a prototype, Yoshida said that 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."

Here's how Sony describes Project Morpheus.
Morpheus enables developers to create experiences that deliver a sense of presence -- where players feel as though they are physically inside the virtual world of a game. Presence is like a window into another world that heightens the emotions gamers experience as they play.

Morpheus features a visor style head-mounted display and works seamlessly with PlayStation Camera to deliver a unique VR experience right before the player’s eyes. Inertial sensors built into the head mount unit and PlayStation Camera accurately track head orientation and movement so as the player’s head rotates, the image of the virtual world rotates naturally and intuitively in real-time.

Furthermore, in supporting games, the player can use a PlayStation Move (PS Move) Motion Controller as an object, such as a sword. Morpheus will reproduce the player’s hands and sword within the game so the player feels like they are physically fighting off enemies with their sword in the virtual world.
Project Morpheus integrates with the PlayStation camera for tracking and PlayStation Move for motion control.

The specifications for the prototype are as follows:
  • 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
  • Connection interface HDMI + USB
  • Function 3D audio, Social Screen
Joining Yoshida on stage was Sony Magic Lab's Richard Marks/ He pioneered the EyeToy camera and the PlayStation Move. Adding color, he said,
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," he 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.
As one example of a differential use, Marks said he has been working with NASA and its JPL on a project that will allow PS4 owners to feel as though they are with the space agency and its satellites and rovers on Mars.

No release date was given for Project Morpheus, but Sony said that it plans to make an SDK available to developers in the near future.

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