The cat's out of the bag.
To be fair, the cat in question had been leaving all sorts of signs for the past year, and the Forbes sort of let it out for a bit before Sony could properly... (where the hell are you going with this metaphor Matt?).
Yes, Sony have VR plans. They have a prototype headset. They have a cool name for the whole shebang, and it's called Project Morpheus.
“At SCE we view innovation as an opportunity to build on our mission to push the boundaries of play,” said Shuhei Yoshida. “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.”
So what is Project Morpheus?
Well, it's a work-in-progress VR headset that combines sensory immersion -- such as we've seen with the Oculus Rift (to whom Sony paid thanks for setting a fire under the industry in the form of accessible VR) -- with the potential for more expansive motion control, designed to work in conjunction with the PlayStation Move, PS Eye and PS4.
In fact, here's a list of specs for you to ogle:
- Component: Processor unit, head-mounted unit
- Display Method: LCD
- Panel Size: 5 inches
- Panel Resolution: 1920xRGBx1080 (960xRGBx1080 per eye)
- Field of View: 90 degrees
- Tracking: 1000Hz; full 360 degrees rotation
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope
- Connection interface: HDMI + USB
- Function: 3D audio, Social Screen
Richard Marks, senior director of Sony’s R&D, took the stage after Yoshida's introduction, and stated that Sony want Morpheus to be widely adopted”. As with Oculus' game plan, the idea is that VR should be accessible -- that it's a future medium not just an expensive fling for niche enthusiasts. There were six key points of VR that he identified: Sight, Sound, Tracking, Control, Ease of Use and Content.
"We want it to be easy for people. It has to be plug and play, and comfortable,” Marks said. "We want to make PlayStation the best place for VR – and not just for playing, but for developing."
Marks was then followed by Anton Mikhailov, senior software engineer at Sony R&D, who outlined some of the development ideologies behind Morpheus, stating that stating VR is a “medium, not a peripheral,” and games “are only one type of content”.
“Head motion is law and presence trumps game design in VR. A lot of the rules from traditional games just don’t apply,” he added.
Mikhailov noted that there are still hurdles and obstacles to navigate when it comes to making VR a seamless proposition. He acknowledged concerns of latency and framerate, and also touched upon the disconnect between certain types of games and the need for full-body motion tracking. But he talked a lot about Presence, and how the sensory immersion you feel with VR is the medium's killer app. Frankly, I'm inclined to agree.
“Emotion will be amplified – you have complete sensory blackout,” said Mikhailov. “That’s why we go to cinemas, where it’s dark and the sound’s great. You get a whole new palette of emotions you can work with – vertigo, claustrophobia, fear of the dark, fear of void and extreme horror.
“Head motion is law and presence trumps game design in VR. A lot of the rules from traditional games just don’t apply,” he continued. "There are still a lot of game design challenges in VR we don’t have the answers to yet."
The price and weight and actualy dimensions of the Morpheus are still up in the air. The dev kit currently has a 5-meter wire but Sony are looking towards making the device wireless. In terms of release focus, the idea is to get it out "as soon as possible,” focussing on release for the PS4.
So how exciting is that?!