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

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+.

  • CDdude55
    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.
  • Blazer1985
    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.
  • nitrium
    I guess that diminishes the chances of a PC version of Morpheus.
  • jasonelmore
    they just need to disable it for the time being, and re-enable it when the VR is close to ready.
  • alextheblue
    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?
  • Zepid
    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.
  • InvalidError
    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.
  • CaedenV
    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...
  • cozmium
    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.
  • laststop311


    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