In a 2014 interview with Edge magazine, Sony engineer Anton Mikhailov claimed that PlayStation Move — the motion-control platform designed in conjunction with the PlayStation 3 — was really a “VR wand disguised as a motion controller.” Virtual reality was little more than a gleam in gamers’ eyes back then, however, as a futuristic vision of a digital path not yet been paved. Sony had an eye on the horizon, though, and it announced Project Morpheus in 2014, which would later be rebranded as Playstation VR.
Despite the technology’s relative youth, pre-orders for PlayStation VR have been fast and furious, with retailers selling out in mere minutes. Consumers apparently want to be the first ones to get their hands on revolutionary new technologies, and PSVR certainly seems to fit the bill. Here’s what we know about Sony’s forthcoming gadget.
Specs and performance
Just like every other VR headset, Sony claims it’s meant to “feel like it’s not even there.” Also just like every other VR headset, it’s very clearly there. Though PSVR is far from ugly — it’s a pretty cool looking device, in fact — it’s still a big, clunky VR headset that would look absolutely ridiculous anywhere other than your living room. The 5.7-inch OLED display features a 1,920 x RBG x 1,080-pixel resolution (960 x RGB x 1080 for each eye) with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz.
The LED lights on the headset aren’t just pieces of flair, however. The PlayStation Camera — which is required for use, but sold separately — uses these LEDs in conjunction with the LED lights on the DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move controllers for spatial recognition, allowing you to move freely as long as you’re in front of the camera. The headset also comes equipped with a six-axis motion sensing system, one made of a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer. According to a buyer’s guide released on the PlayStation Asia support site in July, 2016, PlayStation VR will require players to clear a 60-foot rectangular area — approximately three meters long and 1.9 meters wide — in front of the PlayStation Camera to keep the camera’s field of view clear.
A small, black “processing unit” provides the headset with a little extra juice to power some of the features available through PSVR. At about the same size as an Apple TV, the box sits alongside the PlayStation and processes 3D audio signals that allow the player to sense which direction an audio cue is coming from.
The unit also enables the PlayStation 4 to display a “social screen” while PlayStation VR games or apps are running. As we’ve seen in public demonstrations, the social screen can be used to mirror the image displayed in the headset so that other people in the room can see what’s happening. Developers can also use the social screen to create local asynchronous multiplayer modes, where one player uses PlayStation VR and other players use the television. Conversely, players can also use the headset’s “cinematic mode” to watch movies and play non-VR PlayStation 4 games on a giant virtual screen.
According to the buyers’ guide, Sony recommends that children under 12 should not use PlayStation VR or any virtual reality headset.