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VR is Why You Can't Turn Off the PS4 Controller's Light Bar

By - Source: TechRadar | B 0 comment

That glowing controller light has a real function.

About six months after Sony launched the PlayStation 4, the company introduced us to Project Morpheus. Morpheus is the company's virtual reality effort and comes at a time when the VR industry is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. Though the PS4 was around before we ever heard of Morpheus, Sony has said it has been working on Morpheus for several years, so it should come as no surprise that the platform has influenced certain aspects of the PS4. In fact, we now know that the feature of the PS4 controller that hasn't really made a lot of sense up until now was specifically designed with Morpheus in mind.

Read more: Project Morpheus vs. Oculus Rift Development Kit 2

Speaking to TechRadar, senior Sony designer Jed Ashforth said that the DualShock 4's light bar is a tracking light put in place by Sony's VR team. As a result, despite complaints about the light draining battery too quickly, reflecting off the TV, or being a distraction, users won't be able to turn it off or deactivate the light completely, even though Morpheus won't be around for quite some time. While that light bar is going to go unused by any kind of VR technology for now (it's going to shine on for the motion tracking camera), it will eventually be used by Project Morpheus, so it stays. 

Like most of the VR solutions we've been getting really, really excited about over the last year or so, Morpheus isn't quite ready for prime time just yet. Sony has been working on this project for more than three years, and the company says it will continue to develop Project Morpheus for a "future commercial launch." Nothing more specific than that. We know that Sony is currently working on getting a dedicated SDK out to developers. The company did demos of the technology at GDC back in March, featuring EVE Valkyrie, Thief, The Castle, and The Deep, but it will likely be next year before we see the technology available for consumers.

MORE: The Past, Present, And Future Of VR And AR: The Pioneers Speak

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Add your comment Display 20 Comments.
  • 2 Hide
    CDdude55 , May 10, 2014 11:57 AM
    Glad it has a real purpose, i knew it was draining my PS4's controller battery and it really annoyed me (you pretty much have to charge it every time after you get done playing, it might as well have been wired). Granted, if i do not go the VR route, i should have the option to turn it off or customize it a little to glow only for certain purposes. If i don't ever buy into Project Morpheus then all it does is drain battery.
  • 5 Hide
    Blazer1985 , May 10, 2014 1:10 PM
    I actually read about the vr use of the light some time ago.. But the ability of turning it off when non needed would have been nice.
  • 0 Hide
    nitrium , May 10, 2014 4:08 PM
    I guess that diminishes the chances of a PC version of Morpheus.
  • 3 Hide
    jasonelmore , May 10, 2014 6:06 PM
    they just need to disable it for the time being, and re-enable it when the VR is close to ready.
  • 3 Hide
    alextheblue , May 10, 2014 6:10 PM
    I thought it was there so you could find your controller in the dark if you dropped it! That and bug the piss out of you and kill your battery faster. Brilliant!

    I mean really, can't it just send a signal to the controller to turn the light on when you have the VR helmet turned on?
  • 4 Hide
    Zepid , May 10, 2014 6:59 PM
    I thought it had to do with the PS4 eyetoy needing it to track, and how Sony was originally going to bundle it but took it out at the last minute to undercut Microsoft's price.

    Tom's Hardware needs to do some damn research before posting nonsense.
  • 1 Hide
    InvalidError , May 10, 2014 7:10 PM
    They could simply turn the darned light off when none of the software currently running requires it.

    Gotta love excuses to be lazy and wasteful.
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , May 10, 2014 7:35 PM
    Total BS here. The light is for the Eye Toy, which was supposed to be a standard feature and was only removed when they saw the reaction that MS got from their own camera system, and when they realized that they could undercut MS by $100 with it's removal. Great business move, but the reason the light exists is because when they were made they didn't think it would ever have to be turned off, and it was too late to make changes. I fully expect to see a version with an off feature come down the pipe in a later revision.
    You don't need to remove the light to allow the light to turn off when not needed/wanted. They can just as easily turn the light on when an Eye Toy is installed on the system.

    ... what on earth would Morpheus need a light on the controller for anyways... unless Morpheus requires installation of the Eye Toy to function properly...
  • 0 Hide
    cozmium , May 11, 2014 1:32 AM
    I'm sorry, but who actually came up with the notion it drains the battery if you can't compare with it on or off? This isn't the 80's - it will be using an LED or two and probably make little to no real difference, and this whole idea likely coined by someone without any knowledge of technology.
  • 1 Hide
    laststop311 , May 11, 2014 2:01 AM
    http://www.ps3hax.net/2013/11/disable-the-dualshock-4-leds-to-extend-the-battery-life-time/

    "UPDATE:

    So I just tested again and the DS4 with the LED on is at 1 bar, however the DS4 with the LED off is still at 3 full bars. The reading is 3.67V on the DS4 without the LED controller which is more than the DS4 was with the LED on was last night after a few hours. The battery draw isn’t huge for the LED’s but its still there and noticeable. I think I can safely assume that the DS4 with LED on isn’t going to last 24 hours of being on and idle whereas the DS4 with LED off will probably be scratching at 2 bars."

    its been proven the led light eats a noticeable amount of battery
  • -1 Hide
    cozmium , May 11, 2014 2:16 AM
    No disrespect to the guy doing that testing, but he's measuring the battery by using the bars in the system. Sadly he only used a multimeter for voltage rather than test the current draw so you can calculate exactly how much battery life they are potentially draining in a scientific method.

    Still if it bothers people that much then maybe Sony should have given an option for it - although it just seems to be a case of people complaining about something 'because they can' rather than something of any real impact.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , May 11, 2014 2:56 AM
    Quote:
    I'm sorry, but who actually came up with the notion it drains the battery if you can't compare with it on or off?

    How did you come up with the notion that LEDs light up powered by luck and good intentions?

    It takes power to light up a LED or any other form of light source and any power used by the LEDs in a wireless battery-powered device necessarily come out of the battery.

    Typical low-power LEDs can handle 30-50mW and the DS4 has three so that's possibly more than 100mW getting wasted out of the DS4 battery's ~3.5Wh capacity... ~1/35th of the battery's capacity every hour.
  • -1 Hide
    cozmium , May 11, 2014 3:20 AM
    Quote:
    How did you come up with the notion that LEDs light up powered by luck and good intentions?

    It takes power to light up a LED or any other form of light source and any power used by the LEDs in a wireless battery-powered device necessarily come out of the battery.

    Typical low-power LEDs can handle 30-50mW and the DS4 has three so that's possibly more than 100mW getting wasted out of the DS4 battery's ~3.5Wh capacity... ~1/35th of the battery's capacity every hour.


    Congratulations on taking what I said literally, where would I be without your insightful commentary to instruct me that LED's need power, i'd have to scrap my entire belief that all light sources are powered by pixie dust.

    Obviously anything is going to drain the battery; you could argue they use too many components in the transmitter and the heat dissipated by them all is a 'waste of battery life'. The fact I was simply pointing out, is that without someone measuring what the LED's are using we have no quantifiable data to tell us just how much of an impact it is. Like I said, that guy was using the bars in the system. I saw nothing to suggest that the charge times were done in a measurable manner either, like ensuring a fully drained battery at the start, and a measured charge cycle. There are so many variables going on and that 'investigation' just was not thorough.

    SMD LED's are usually below your "30-50mW" estimate, and whilst I haven't seen for myself what they are i'd be surprised if they were not. This is my point: no one seems to have measured them to know whether this is a large impact or a negligible impact that people just like to moan about.
  • 2 Hide
    kartu , May 11, 2014 5:09 AM
    Sense makes it none.
    VR (or eye, or anything) needing it does not explain why you have it on when using neither PS eye, nor the VR.
  • 1 Hide
    InvalidError , May 11, 2014 8:40 AM
    Quote:
    This is my point: no one seems to have measured them to know whether this is a large impact or a negligible impact that people just like to moan about.

    If you have ever worked with LEDs, preferably high-efficiency ones, you would know that you do not get much useful light out of them until you reach roughly 5mA. Less than that would usually be nearly imperceptible in a reasonably well-lit room and that is even without a diffuser cap in front of it, staring straight down the clear epoxy lens.

    So, even without taking any measurements or knowing what exact parts used are, I can already make a fairly well-educated guess from typical device characteristics that the LEDs should be draining ~1/60th of the battery capacity every hour.

    Since the PC-DS4 controller toolkit allows setting RGB-LED brightness, the simplest way to find out how much of a power drain the LEDs put on the controller would be to measure USB power with the LEDs on max/normal/off brightness. Whatever the difference is, that's how much power the LEDs + LED controller use.
  • -1 Hide
    Puiucs , May 11, 2014 9:09 AM
    Quote:
    Glad it has a real purpose, i knew it was draining my PS4's controller battery and it really annoyed me (you pretty much have to charge it every time after you get done playing, it might as well have been wired). Granted, if i do not go the VR route, i should have the option to turn it off or customize it a little to glow only for certain purposes. If i don't ever buy into Project Morpheus then all it does is drain battery.


    we'll just have to live with less battery life.
  • 1 Hide
    Darkk , May 11, 2014 11:00 AM
    I just looked at tearitdown for the controller and doesn't look like there is an easy way to cut the wires for it. Come on Sony. Fix it!!
  • 1 Hide
    mamasan2000 , May 11, 2014 8:57 PM
    Can't you just buy a copy of the controller? Aftermarket non-branded. Hardly any difference anyway. Maybe on paper but not in RL.
    "Yeah, but I might use that feature"
    Yeah, you might jump off a bridge and drown too. But will it happen?

    Fok em =). If it hurts their dollars, they will do something about it.
  • 0 Hide
    virtualban , May 12, 2014 12:15 AM
    If they cannot figure out a way for the new advancements in technology to not undermine the current users, well, someone else will. Hopefully those won't require you to stay logged in to facebook all the time, or always online for whatever reason.
    New technology should (in theory) be better on all fronts. Better resolution, better battery life, better reach of the signal, better content as well... one can dream...
  • 0 Hide
    Novuake , May 12, 2014 7:58 AM
    Console peasants! :p 

    You can not complain about "customizability" and be unhappy about a product if the whole point behind consoles are ease of use.
    Live with it people or go PC. Period.
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