Prototype available to developers soon.
After many months of rumors and speculation, Sony has formally announced its virtual reality prototype for PlayStation 4, dubbed Project Morpheus. The head-mounted display features a white visor with a black wrap-around piece along the eye-line, and the edges of the device give off a blue LED glow. The prototype will be available for developers to begin creating games soon.
During the GDC 2014 presentation, PlayStation head Shuhei Yoshida spoke of how the gaming industry has changed over time, thanks to technological advancements. Virtual reality, he says, "may well shape the future of games," by increasing immersion with a sense of presence while playing. Yoshida showed the early development of the VR headset, beginning with a PlayStation Move literally duct-taped to a prototype.
"We believe Morpheus will further enhance the world of PlayStation 4 with seamless integration with PlayStation Camera, DualShock 4, and PS Move," said Yoshida.
Dr. Richard Marks, PlayStation research and development, was quick to point out VR capabilities will go beyond games, as well. One of the projects Marks is currently working on involves a virtual walk on the surface of Mars, in partnership with NASA. Sony believes the six principles of VR focus on sight, sound, tracking, control, ease of use, and content.
Marks believes Sony has an advantage in the sight and sound department, thanks to its existing expertise in high-definition displays and audio. Tracking for the Morpheus can be handled by PlayStation Move technology, in addition to the PlayStation Camera. In regards to control, Morpheus will take advantage of the DualShock 4's sensors and glowing light. Marks says Sony intends for Morpheus to be easy to use, with the headset simply slipping over your eyes and just working.
Sony has also indicated a number of software developers, including Epic Games and Crytek, are already on-board with Project Morpheus. PlayStation's Anton Mikhailov says the company is treating VR as "a medium, not a peripheral."
As far as compatible games, Sony showed off an undersea adventure demo from Sony London called The Deep, in addition to announcing Morpheus compatibility for Thief and EVE Valkyrie. Strangely enough, Oculus VR had previously announced the latter as an Oculus Rift exclusive.
While it's clear Project Morpheus could have a big impact on the future of gaming on PlayStation 4, it's still difficult to ascertain exactly how the headset will play out. As the device is still a prototype, Sony has not revealed final specs. But the current prototype does include a 1080p display, full 360 degree positional tracking, and reportedly low latency. The company has also made a special focus on ergonomic design, and Morpheus will apparently allow the use of other wireless audio headsets.
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