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Sony joins the VR fray with Project Morpheus, a headset for the PlayStation 4

Tonight at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Sony announced “Project Morpheus,” its new virtual reality gaming headset. The unit isn’t ready to be released just yet and is still only a prototype, but it is coming to the PlayStation 4 in the near future.

Sony’s announcement event began with Shuhei Yoshida, Sony’s President of SCE Worldwide Studios, taking the stage to reveal Sony’s long-term planning regarding virtual reality. The headset has been under development since at least 2010, and was always intend for use with the PS4.

“Many of us at PlayStation have dreamed about VR, and what it can mean for the games we create,” Yoshida said.

As for the name, Yoshida joked that the company came up with the name just last week; “Project Morpheus” is just a placeholder.

The headset will use the PS4’s PlayStation Camera to track the movement of your head. It will also feature built in headphones, offering “true spatial sound.” The image being displayed in the VR headset will be displayed on the TV as well, but in a single image, as opposed to the binocular effect that is typically seen when VR images are represented on a TV. The idea is so that others can play the same game while one person uses the VR set. At the moment, the plan is to allow only one headset per console. The PlayStation Move will also be compatible with Project Morpheus. 

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“It’s almost as if the camera were designed for virtual reality…” Dr. Richard Marks from Sony’s Research and Development said with a knowing laugh. Clearly, Sony has had this in mind for quite a while. 

Many of the details are still being kept under wraps, including things like latency requirements. Price and release date are also still unknown. At the moment the headset is specifically designed for the PS4, but a PC version isn’t out of the question  at some point in the future.

Sony isn’t ready to talk about games just yet either – with two exceptions. During GDC, Sony will demo the unit running specially remastered sections of the recently released Thief, as well as EVE Valkyrie, the space-based dogfighter. Several partners were mentioned though, including: Crytek, Epic, Unity, and more. You can also expect first party Sony developers to work with the set, naturally, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

Of course, you can’t talk about virtual reality these days without mentioning Oculus VR and its Oculus Rift.

Yoshida gave a quick shout out to both Valve and Oculus VR, claiming he – and by extension Sony – had an enormous amount of respect for both companies and the work they have done in the virtual reality field. Similarly, we spoke with Oculus VR founder and Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey today about what were until now just rumors surrounding Sony’s possible entry into the VR field.

“Sony certainly has the resources to make something really incredible,” Luckey said. “They have the resources to put a huge effort behind VR and show that they’re committed.”

We’ll have a hands (and eyes) on report later this week.

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