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Sony Crashes VR Party with Project Morpheus for PS4

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 20 comments

Sony is joining the VR party.

The last year or so has been really exciting for VR technology and it looks like Sony is eager to keep up with what's shaping up to be the fastest growing trend in gaming. The Japan-based company today announced Project Morpheus, a VR system for its fourth generation PlayStation 4 console.

 

Morpheus looks quite different to what we’ve seen from VR companies, eschewing the ski-goggle styling of Oculus and bespectacled aesthetic of CastAR for a visor and headband. It utilizes Sony’s PlayStation Camera as well as accelerometer and gyroscope sensors built into Morpheus itself to track head orientation and movement. That way, when your head turns, the virtual world you're seeing turns too. Throw in Sony’s motion-sensing PlayStation Move and 3D audio technology developed by Sony itself (it re-creates stereoscopic sounds in all directions, changing in real-time) and you’ve got yourself a system that offers a fully-immersive experience without using a single piece of third-party equipment. It boasts a 1080p resolution, a 90-degree field of view and compatibility with DUALSHOCK 4, and Sony has been working on it for years.

Like most of the VR solutions we’ve seen as of late, Morpheus isn’t 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 Porject Morpheus for a "future commercial launch." No, nothing more specific than that, unfortunately.

Right now, Sony is trying to drum up excitement amongst developers. The company is currently working on a dedicated SDK, which it promises will be made available once it's completed. The goal is to have the Project Morpheus prototype serve as the first development kit for PS4 developers. Sony will have Morpheus at GDC this week, and the company says attendees will be allowed take the technology for a spin. Demos will include EVE Valkyrie, Thief, The Castle, and The Deep. 

In the meantime, the addition of a big name player like Sony to the VR game is pretty exciting, and it must be pretty scary for smaller companies that have been more vocal about their efforts over the last couple of years. While companies like Oculus VR say they hope to sell their solution as cheaply as possible "while still existing as a company," Sony has a lot more money to dump into R&D, engineering, and marketing. Don't forget, we're talking about a company that famously sold the PS3 at a loss for years. That console launched in 2006 and didn't sell at a profit until 2010. Sony could, if Morpheus matches up to the competition, price everyone else out of the market. Of course, that relies on people already owning the PS4/PlayStation Camera/DUALSHOCK 4 combo necessary to operate Project Morpheus, which is in itself a huge investment for budget conscious gamers. We’ll be at GDC ourselves so we’ll take a trip to the Sony booth this week and let you know what we think.

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

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  • 4 Hide
    hajila , March 19, 2014 4:37 AM
    PS4 doesn't have enough horse power for immersive virtual reality, especially at 1080p.
  • 4 Hide
    Zeh , March 19, 2014 4:47 AM
    Quote:
    PS4 doesn't have enough horse power for immersive virtual reality, especially at 1080p.
    Power is relative.
  • 6 Hide
    David Dewis , March 19, 2014 4:58 AM
    I think the PS4 will be able to run at 1080p, but not at 60fps and from what i've read, higher frame rates are important to reduce motion sickness. So either the games will have to be simple or have their graphics scaled back. Good to see innovation and competition though. And as that's now 2 main platforms with VR, this should encourage big companies to design games with VR as a main focus as opposed to being strapped on afterwards. Despite all of Call of Duty's problems, it was one of the first FPS on Console to do the stereoscopic 3D on console, so this could be a nice addition for the future.
  • 6 Hide
    universal remonster , March 19, 2014 5:33 AM
    " Sony could, if Morpheus matches up to the competition, price everyone else out of the market."

    Except that the Oculus (the competition you seem to be eluding to) does not work for the consoles, and this device is not for PC. So no, I don't see that happening. Not to mention, did you see the last time Sony released a head mount 3D display? It was a thousand bucks... without all of the extra motion tracking equipment. Sony has never been in the business to be the company that looks to price others out of the market. Everything they sell is priced at a premium simply because of the name Sony, and I don't see that tax going away. Just take a look at their TV division. The example of how friendly they are by selling their PS3's at a lose for their good buddies i.e. the consumer doesn't fly either as ALL the consoles back then, PS1, 2, 3 Dreamcast, N64, Original Xbox, 360.... They all sold the hardware at a loss and eventually turned profit.

    Anyways, it's two different market segments.. I'm sure Palmer isn't getting bent out of shape, nor was he attending this "party" that Sony crashed.
  • 0 Hide
    quilciri , March 19, 2014 6:27 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    PS4 doesn't have enough horse power for immersive virtual reality, especially at 1080p.
    Power is relative.
    Lol. He has a point, though. Hte PS4 can't even run demanding games at 1080p already; and if they're implementation of VR is similar to the Occulus, then the PS4 will have to push TWO 1080p screens.
  • 0 Hide
    shriganesh , March 19, 2014 6:28 AM
    Very funny. I don't think Sony is never a competitor to Oculus VR. Sony will never bring it's tech to PC. Where as Oculus is very open and have the advantage of being open. Where as many people are skeptical about Sony as they try to lock out everything else.
  • -1 Hide
    brandonjclark , March 19, 2014 6:46 AM
    Could there be onboard processing?
  • 0 Hide
    Menigmand , March 19, 2014 7:43 AM
    Of course the PS4 can do 1080p@60, it just depends on how much graphical detail you program into the game. If you do a game for a VR-headset, then you can sacrifice graphics for resolution and fps.. it's purely a design choice.
  • 0 Hide
    itookmypills , March 19, 2014 8:27 AM
    Just a 90 degree field of view??? Last time I checked humans have a ~180 degree field of view. It will be like looking through a window, but with 3d.
  • 1 Hide
    David Dewis , March 19, 2014 9:57 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    PS4 doesn't have enough horse power for immersive virtual reality, especially at 1080p.
    Power is relative.
    Lol. He has a point, though. Hte PS4 can't even run demanding games at 1080p already; and if they're implementation of VR is similar to the Occulus, then the PS4 will have to push TWO 1080p screens.


    Its only driving one 1080p screen. Oculus splits the resolution in half. so each eye actually sees 960 by 1080. But still you points relevant. Even if the PS4 does do 1080p, it wont do it at more than 30fps with 'next gen graphics' which will lead to awful blur and motion sickness.
    Also the Oculus has a field of view of 110° as opposed to just 90°. Also the the oculus has a larger screen by 0.6 of an inch (every little helps lol) Rift is also OLED as oposed to LCD. Same resolution though
  • 0 Hide
    David Dewis , March 19, 2014 10:00 AM
    Quote:
    Of course the PS4 can do 1080p@60, it just depends on how much graphical detail you program into the game. If you do a game for a VR-headset, then you can sacrifice graphics for resolution and fps.. it's purely a design choice.


    Its a bit worrying though, when you have to reduce graphics to reach 1080p @60fps. I'm sure PS4 could play gta 4 at 1080p, 60fps, but its not exactly next gen then is it? Are people really going to want to step back a generation in graphics, just to use a VR headset? Interested to see the outcome. All inovation is good, and adds to competition.
  • 0 Hide
    okmnji , March 19, 2014 10:23 AM
    fds
  • 0 Hide
    panchojuan , March 19, 2014 10:28 AM
    meh. this wont work/www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YCBadIVro8&list=PLckFgM6dUP2hc4iy-IdKFtqR9TeZWMPjmat around minute 17:00. you need 120fps for good vr (meaning no dizziness or vomiting)
  • 0 Hide
    panchojuan , March 19, 2014 10:29 AM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YCBadIVro8&list=PLckFgM6dUP2hc4iy-IdKFtqR9TeZWMPjm
  • 0 Hide
    dennisburke , March 19, 2014 10:34 AM
    Quote:
    Just a 90 degree field of view??? Last time I checked humans have a ~180 degree field of view. It will be like looking through a window, but with 3d.
    It's true that our field of view is 180 degrees, but we can only focus on what we're looking at. To get a true 180 degree field of view the screen would have to wrap half way around our heads...that would be cool...flexible screens may make that possible. But you're right, 90 degrees is like looking through a window. When playing on my 27" 1080 if I can adjust the in-game viewing angle I'll move it up to 100~110 degrees...although sometimes I feel like a midget playing.Oculus VR has changed it to 100 degrees, which is good, but I would think software could have some say in it too.
  • -1 Hide
    sp00 , March 19, 2014 11:29 AM
    The ps4 doesn't have to render more pixels for VR display. Half the screen for the left and half the screen for the right eye. So it shouldn't tax the system that much more, unless it is a full 1080p for each eye.
  • 0 Hide
    dotaloc , March 19, 2014 11:47 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    PS4 doesn't have enough horse power for immersive virtual reality, especially at 1080p.
    Power is relative.
    horses are not (relative).
  • -2 Hide
    KosherGrimace , March 19, 2014 2:05 PM
    My coworkers at Red Lobster had an excited conversation about the Morpheus today, and when I mentioned Oculus was given confused looks and told they'd never heard of it.That sounds like bad news for Oculus (and MS and Kinect for that matter). Mainstream console users recognize a recently announced product, but still haven't heard of one that's been openly developed and discussed for years.SuXBone is going to have a really tough time dealing with lackluster hardware, poor development tools, AND the boring kinect system instead of VR.
  • 0 Hide
    coolitic , March 19, 2014 2:23 PM
    The good thing is that it's less invasive. The bad thing is that it still is too invasive.
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , March 20, 2014 3:45 AM
    It's just a prototype it's not a release candidate. It will be high priced.