sony-ps4-vr-headset-project-morpheus

Sony have finally revealed their secretive (or not) VR Headset project for the Playstation 4 and it’s called Project Morpheus.

Breaking: We’ll be updating this story as it develops.

Project Morpheus

m_5328eca223f8d_sIn a packed event at the Moscone center in San Francisco, President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida took to the stage to unveil a highly developed prototype VR Headset that Sony have apparently been working on for some time now. Project  Morpheus is the result of years of tinkering by Sony engineers, the slideshow demonstrating images form earlier prototypes dating back to 2010. After a brief history lesson, the object that had adorned the stage since people had filed into the room was revealed.

The prototype looks somewhat as you might expect, sleekly designed and looking not unlike a prop you might discover on the set of Oblivion or perhaps 2001: A Space Oddyssey. It was stressed that what was shown is not final hardware, but if it was – we probably wouldn’t complain.

The Hardware

Project Morpheus as Unveiled Onstage
Project Morpheus as Unveiled Onstage

OK, details are thin on the ground here. Project Morpheus has been designed it seems from the ground up with positional tracking. The four glowing edges at the front of the VR Headset are key to the unit’s positional tracking system. These are used for visual tracking by the PS Camera accessory, so no dedicated hardware required here.

In terms of display – no hard details, merely references to “hi-res”, “high framerate” and “Low persistence” displays. The current development units posess a 1080p display and can produce a 90+ degree FOV. Rotational tracking is sampled at 1000Hz.

There’s a headphone jack to plugin your own audio, and the unit overall is designed to allow free flow of air around your face. The unit is currently wired, but Sony are investigating wireless solutions.

One thing was made very clear though, this unit is a Playstation 4 exclusive device for now. Although Sony wouldn’t be drawn on whether any future PC compatibility would arise.

One phrase that was heard many times was however “presence”  and Sony’s pursuit of it. Seems this will become the overriding term used to encompass the power of good VR form hereon in.

The Games / Software

OK, so there wasn’t much to show evidently at this event. However, it’s fairly clear that Sony thought carefully about it’s audience before piecing together this presentation. The rhetoric was designed to appeal to game creatives, in fact the slant was almost an appeal.

In a surprise announcement, EVE Valkyrie was announced as playable on the show floor with Project Morpheus. Up to now, Valkyrie has ben the soul preserve of Oculus Hardware for demonstration purposes, it’s interesting to see how it will measure up on Sony’s hardware.

Sony will have Project Morpheus on display on the show floor from tomorrow (Wednesday 19th), so we’ll do our level best to spend some time with the unit and report back whatever we find.

“So when’s it out?!” I can hear you all cry, the answer “As soon as possible!”.

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  • druidsbane

    Interesting. Shame that it will be LCD instead of OLED like the Rift and 90 degree FOV instead of 110. This means that it is already 1 step behind and while they have a great design and integration with playstation move they may still produce a slightly inferior product which has the potential to turn people off from VR (or maybe just push them to the best solution out there). Let’s see what tomorrow brings with Oculus’ announcement if any!

  • Don Gateley

    1080 at even 90 degrees is pixel city. At 110, of course, it’s worse. This technology has a very, very long way to go before it will be generally satisfactory. I gimmick it is and a gimmick it will be for a long time. Not forever, though.

  • Curtrock

    Oculus and Valve have done a lot of the heavy lifting, in regards to the evolution of VR. Sony was very light on details, in this press reveal. I get the impression that Sony is already pitching VR as something to monetize, even though it isn’t ready for it, yet. We shall see how their HMD performs tomorow. I don’t have a lot of faith in Sony to truly embrace the VR “mindset” path that Oculus + Valve have carved out, and I’m not sure bootstrapping an HMD to the PS4 is gonna be a win. Still way too many variables. Not impressed with Sony bouncing around the VR buzzwords like “presence”, etc. So far, seems like they are just trying to jump on the VR bandwagon….not leading…not trailblazing..more like, “me too” syndrome. Time will tell…

    • Tim Suetens

      Exactly… I wasn’t conviced by the way Sony suddenly started using VR buzzwords. Felt forced. All they care about is making gimmicks that their 12-year old PS4 users will buy and throw away a month later.

  • Chris Given

    Sony probably bought a DK1 of the OR and told it’s developers to rip it apart and build something similar but this… This is not a serious threat to the OR in any way shape or form… Maybe a few PS4 users will buy it if it’s not priced super high like most sony stuff usually is…

    • Patrick Hogenboom

      The few spec details we have are sound more like crystal cove than DK1.

  • Kevin Wagrez

    I don’t see many people reminding Sony’s earlier attempts at HMDs (the HMZ series). They were cheap, availaible on PC en quickly used on many VR research laboratory. Early VR addicts could buy some for a little more than 600$ (even saw one at 300$ in Japan). They had OLED displays and pretty higher resolution than Oculus. It was not confortable though, and the FOV was ridiculous (45°). That was not so bad an attempt, it did the trick before Oculus came.
    I sincereley hope they will change their mind about PS4 exclusivity. VR is not like the video game industry, it is not strong enough to allow platform battle tear apart its few enthusiasts ! I also believe that what helped Oculus and other cheap VR interfaces manufacturer (Sixense with their razer hydra) is the community. The people who do marvelous things at their home with the available hardware. For an interface to have a future in VR, I believe it must be accessible by this community, and everyone can’t buy a PS4 and the various dev kits just for One HMD.
    I mean I trust Sony to try to monetize anything, but I don’t trust them to make the ground breaking hardware the VR community is expecting. Oculus doesn’t have to worry, at all. But the VR community might, if Sony really fails with this HMD. I can even imagine the people shouting “You see ? VR doesn’t work ! Nobody will buy it”. (I’m kind of a pessimistic)

  • Andreas Aronsson

    Exciting times for sure. Now all the console-only non-computer games will have a native VR option! No need to feel alienated from the VR revolution that is to come! I really look forward to your hands on to see what you think about it! :D Enjoy your rest now before the frantic reporting that will be the Oculus event soon!

  • ZarthCode

    * PS4 only …check
    * 1080p w/positional …check
    * Middling FOV …check
    * EVE Valkyrie ….hmmm, that’s a surprise.

    I guess just about all the predictions about this were correct: An Oculus Rift “me too” device that doesn’t have (and may possibly never receive) PC support, that could splinter (and possibly destroy) the VR community if widely adopted. And, in traditional Sony style, it looks ready for release*.

    * It’ll probably be bundled with EVE Valkyrie, just to make sure it sticks.

    • Tim Suetens

      Exactly. This is an existential threat to VR. Oculus MUST release the Rift before Sony, or we’re all doomed.

  • seanlumly

    I can’t believe how much negativity there is here regarding this headset! Sony’s headset is a BIG DEAL and a very positive step for the industry as a whole.

    First of all Sony has an incredible brand upon which to leverage this technology. They also have a platform and the marketing dollars to take this to the masses. Marketing matters, and Sony has a reach that can extend this to regular people (not just the enthusiast crowd) in a way few other companies can, and make this technology very accessible.

    Second, regardless of the headset, they are also bringing something meaningful to the technology: low latency absolute tracked peripherals, via the Playstation Camera and PS Move controllers. Regardless of the move’s past success, is has proved to be low latency and very precise and will play well in a VR space. This opens the door to manipulating physical tools in a 3D space, and doing so wirelessly with amazing precision.

    Third, Sony has tremendous in-house development resources and connections to multi-million dollar studios and a TON of indy developers. One of their project Morpheus demo’s was the recent Thief by Square/Enix! Suddenly games like Destiny, Uncharted, Journey, or Drive Club with a VR mode become a DISTINCT possibility, and certainly titles built from the ground-up to support VR. From a software development perspective, this is great news!

    Fourth, such a big player getting into VR will ultimately lead to more awareness and should lead to more advocacy and development of VR experiences across all platforms. Expect many of these companies (that also release on PC, I might add), to increase VR development and support alternative VR devices.

    Any way you slice it, this product will be very good for the re-emerged VR industry, and as VR enthusiasts, this, not blind brand loyalty, should be the thing that is most important.

  • Curtrock

    It is not “blind brand loyalty” to point out how Sony has dropped the ball on other projects, and done a half-assed job on some pretty promising tech. I’ve also witnessed Sony snatch defeat from the jaws of success on a few AAA game franchises, and back losers to the hilt! I’ve seen them price themselves right out of the TV and computer business, too. I am skeptical about Sony’s motivations and commitment to VR. The VR revolution is a movement towards a destination we have all been dreaming about for a long time. ( 25 years in my case… Yikes!) Oculus seems focused solely on bringing the dream of true VR to life. I respect and appreciate that, immensely. I also respect Sony for what they have done. (PS, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSN). Sony is the King of console gaming. Kudos. If they can help move the VR revolution fwd for all of us, more power to them. But, if they treat VR like it’s an accessory to be exploited for the benefit of their console, then they can Fuck Off. Either way, there will be many brands of HMD and VR systems in the future, and it looks like Oculus is positioned to hold their own regardless of the competition. Just my 2 cents here….Respect to all the passionate VR advocates here!