Rumors have been flying around about Sony’s new virtual reality headset for a while now, but finally we have confirmation. Sony went live with the announcement of Project Morpheus, the name for their new headset, yesterday at GDC. Sony says that they hope Project Morpheus will “push the gaming industry forward” and that “nothing elevates the level of immersion better than VR.” So what is Project Morpheus capable of?
Well let’s start at the headset itself. The display is actually mounted on the front of a harness that rests at the back of your head, hanging down. The display itself is about as big as the Oculus Rift, though it is more rounded and less blocky. Apparently it’s hanging down design actually makes Project Morpheus impart less weight to your neck and more on the top of your head, although this design was not yet finalized. All the videos that Sony has to show at the moment feature prototypes, which use the same behind the head strap that the Oculus Rift does.
The display itself has a 1080p resolution and gives you an over 90 degree field of vision. The headset itself has lights on the outside which can be tracked by the PS Move camera, as well as its own internal headtracking motion detectors. Utilizing this headtracking capability allows Project Morpheus to display a full 360 degree world around the player, letting them look behind themselves or turn around as they like. The headset also comes with its own volume control, and can be attached to custom headphones or headsets, allowing for an immersive audio experience. Sony has also went out of their way to note that the device works even if you wear glasses, that the headset will be fully adjustable for people of all heights and builds, and that the name of the headset is not a reference to the Matrix, but rather a reference to the Greek God of Dreams – who the character in the Matrix was referencing.
Most notably, Sony says their goal is to make Project Morpheus very easy to use. According to Richard Marks of Sony R&D, VR won’t catch on if it’s complicated to set up. Considering that the Oculus Rift needs quite a bit of calibration to be able to work at all, we can see how this can be an issue. Marks says that Project Morpheus, will be simple to pick up and play. Simply turn it on and put it on your head and you are good to go. In addition, Sony says that VR can only work if framerates stay high and latency stays low, or there will be a disconnect between the motion of the gamer and the motion of the gamer’s avatar. Luckily, the PS4 has an incredible amount of power and seems to be able to handle the load.
The applications of this headset are many, and extend beyond the basic principles of VR. At its most simple, users will be able to combine the headset with motion controls to provide an even more immersive experience. However, the headset also holds much promise for competitive games. For example, the headset will allow two FPS players to play together on the same couch without seeing each other’s screen or hearing each other’s audio. In addition, two players can also look at the same screen but see different pieces of information, allowing for interesting asymmetrical games to be made. Imagine a horror game where both players are in the same environment, but they see totally different threats, simulating the fact that both of them are going crazy!
Sony does not yet have a price-point for this headset, but if it’s going to catch on the price will have to stay low. Sony has partnered with companies like Crytek, Unity, Epic games, and more to begin development of VR based software. In addition, Sony Santa Monica has been pegged to develop multiple prototypes for the headset, one of which allows the user to become Kratos.
What do you think? Will Sony succeed in making VR catch on or is VR always going to be a gimmick? Let us know in the comments and we will bring you more updates on Project Morpheus as they become available.