Sony today revealed its newest console, PlayStation 5. Though the company has previously confirmed that PS5 will support the current PSVR headset, it remained quiet about the prospect of PSVR 2 during today’s reveal. But there may be one good hint, a new stereo camera accessory which could bring upgraded tracking to PSVR and PSVR 2.

PlayStation 5 was finally revealed in full today. It’s a sleek, upright console that can stand upright or lay on its side, and will come in two variations: one with a disk drive and one without. The price and exact release date weren’t announced today, but the system is set to ship this holiday season.

Image courtesy Sony

Of most interest to us, of course, is the console’s VR capabilities and PSVR 2. Sony didn’t talk about that today, but it’s already been confirmed that PS5 will support the current PSVR headset.

And that makes today’s reveal of a stereo ‘HD Camera’ accessory for PlayStation 5 quiet intriguing.

PSVR Tracking is Largely Limited by the PS4 Camera

The current PSVR headset uses the PS4’s stereo PlayStation Camera to track the position of the headset by detecting its array of glowing lights. The camera also tracks the PlayStation Move controllers the same way.

The limited resolution of the PlayStation camera (up to 1280 × 800 @ 60Hz) is one reason why PSVR tracking is worst-in-class, showing more jitter and less accuracy than other major headsets (but still clearly good enough for Sony to be leading in headset sales).

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Enhanced specs on the PlayStation 5 stereo HD Camera could potentially mean upgraded tracking for PSVR and PSVR 2.

How the PS5 Camera Could Upgrade PSVR Tracking

Image courtesy Sony

We’re still waiting for full specs on the camera, but The Verge reports that the HD Camera’s dual sensors are 1920 × 1080. More pixels means more precision when detecting the glowing tracking markers on PSVR and the PS Move controllers. This is especially important for detecting the markers at a distance, because precision falls off at an exponential rate as distance increases.

Beyond higher resolution, modern higher quality sensors could make a big difference too. PSVR’s current tracking can be fussy if the environment is too bright, or if there’s high contrast in the scene (like a bright window or ray of sun behind the player). Sensors with better light sensitivity and dynamic range could improve tracking in these difficult scenarios. Other upgrades like global shutter would be better still.

Higher frame rates could help too. The existing PS4 camera can go up to 240Hz, but only at a resolution of 320 × 192. Higher frame rates can reduce the need for tracking prediction, but sacrificing that much resolution wouldn’t be worth it.

We don’t know the frame rate modes on the PS5 camera yet, but if it can do 1080p @ 120Hz, that would be even better for tracking than 1080p @ 60Hz. Higher framerates would mean more up-to-date data for the tracking algorithms, which could reduce the need for tracking prediction (which helps mask latency).

A Big Hint

The big hint that the PS5 HD Camera will likely work for PSVR tracking is that it’s stereo instead of mono. Having two cameras means the tracking algorithms can compare the difference between the images to enhance the tracking estimate, just like our own eyes work together to give us a visual sensation of 3D depth.

SEE ALSO
PlayStation 5 to Launch Holiday 2020, Including New Controller with Improved Haptics
The PS5 controller has some lights on it, but none that seem obvious for tracking usage | Image courtesy Sony

Sony might have just made the camera for streamers who want to capture themselves along with their gameplay, but then why make it stereo?

The camera will likely track the PS5 DualSense controller (just like the PS4 camera tracks the PS4 controllers) though it isn’t clear exactly how that will work, because the PS5 controller doesn’t have obvious glowing markers on it like the PS4 controller.

What the Camera Could Mean for PSVR 2 Tracking on PS5

Image courtesy Sony

Sony has heavily teased an upcoming PSVR 2 headset, but where would it fit into this scheme?

It seems obvious for Sony to use the PS5 HD Camera to track PSVR 2. This would increase the demand for the camera while cutting costs on the headset by not shelling out for an inside-out tracking system.

“But but but!”—I hear commenters already typing—”that would mean PSVR 2 still has front-facing tracking which is so last-gen!” Ah, but this is a misconception.

PSVR supports 360 tracking fairly well. The reason it’s restricted mostly to front-facing tracking is that the Move controllers are easily occluded when the player turns around. For 360 tracking on PSVR 2, Sony could continue to use the HD Camera to track the headset, as long as it uses a different tracking solution for the controllers.

Headset-based electromagnetic controller tracking—as seen in Magic Leap and Pico Neo 2—is one option. We’ve also seen the likes of headset-based ultrasonic tracking on headsets like Vive Focus Plus. There’s other possibilities too, like putting cameras on the controllers themselves which look for the headset’s glowing markers.

SEE ALSO
Back-compat PSVR Games on PS5 Could See Improved Frame Rates, Resolution, & Loading

Another possibility is that PSVR 2 will use full-blown inside-out tracking, but could still fuse data from the HD camera for additional precision and robustness.

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We’ve reached out to Sony for more information about the PS5 HD camera and the company’s plans for PlayStation VR and PlayStation VR 2 on Playstation 5.

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  • Bob

    ““But but but!”—I hear commenters already typing—”that would mean PSVR 2 still has front-facing tracking which is so last-gen!””

    Hahaha. Looks like Ben is already quite fed up with the predictability and toxic behavior of the internets.

    Can’t blame you Ben. Can’t blame you. We’ve all been there :)

    • benz145

      Not necessarily toxic, I just knew the association between PSVR tracking being only front-facing means that many people haven’t stopped to realize that it’s primarily an issue with controller occlusion : P

      • Kevin White

        There are other issues with PSVR tracking than just controller occlusion when the player’s back is to the camera. It’s also quite difficult to error correct using two fairly close-set cameras watching one light source (PS4 Gamepad or Move controller), so tracking isn’t as stable and solid as we’re used to with Lighthouse, Constellation (2+ cameras), and the WMR / Quest / Rift S tracking. This can lead to drifting over time as well as momentary controller position freakouts.

        I personally hope the camera is there for PSVR1 compatibility and other non-VR uses, and that PSVR2 at least moves to inside-out headset tracking and controller tracking via headset cameras.

        What do we know about backwards compatibility of game software — is PS5 said to be able to play PS4 / PS4 Pro games? If not, then PSVR1 + PS5 will only play games recompiled from PS4 to play on PS5, or games made for PS5 but before PSVR2 is out. I dunno, it’ll be interesting to see what Sony is planning for BC and for VR on PS5 initially and down the road.

        • silvaring

          I believe it will be for backwards compatibility, and super sampling. Remember the oled is a 1080p RGB. Games upscaled to 4k could look tremendous as already the screen door on the headset is very minimal.

        • benz145

          Single camera tracking (not even stereoscopic) was plenty good on Rift CV1. The biggest issues for good 360 tracking is the low resolution/low quality of the sensors and occlusion of controllers.

          • Kevin White

            Okay, I’ll concede you could get away with single camera tracking on the Rift CV1

            But Rift’s Touch controllers had an array of infrared LED lights. That’s very different from the big balls on the Move controllers or the bar on the PS4 gamepad. And it shows.

            I also had trouble using PSVR, even just the headset, when the lighting situation wasn’t perfect — for instance when my wife was in the kitchen and the pendant lights were on and the cameras got confused. Never had any such issue with Lighthouse, Constellation, or WMR.

            Dr. Octopus or whatever his name is on Reddit went into great technical detail a couple of years ago about why PSVR controller tracking is lackluster.

          • benz145

            You’re right, the strobing IR LEDs used on Rift CV1 and Touch have big advantages over the visible light markers on PSVR and Move. However, greater resolution in the tracking camera and all the potential sensor improvements I mentioned in the article could make a major difference in tracking quality compared to the original PSVR.

            It’s very possible that in the four years since the launch of PSVR, Sony R&D has yielded a better array/arrangement/number of markers on the headset that would make it easier to identify poses.

            Newer/better IMUs in the headset and controllers would be an improvement too. I don’t know the specs on the Move IMUs, but since they were introduced well before PSVR, I doubt they’re an ideal part for the fidelity needed for VR tracking.

    • care package

      I bet you know about being toxic yourself.

  • Alextended

    Would be super dumb to use external cameras for PSVR2 and device a whole different tracking method for the controllers. Just include the cameras on the HMD itself to also have pass through capabilities and whatever other features are possible. Pass through is pretty must have so since they have to have cameras for that anyway why include an external camera requirement regardless of the tracking method the controllers use.

    • benz145

      It wouldn’t be done if they’ve already built a new camera that people may have anyway. That’s cost savings across the board.

      • gothicvillas

        I personally think, camera is part of the package not because main reason is VR. There are other uses I guess. It would be hard to believe Sony went the same path and offer next gen VR based on the same flawed camera setup.

      • Bob

        What’s the magnitude of the cost savings Ben?

        Cost-benefit analysis; is it worth it? What does it lead to? Better display technology? Better lenses?

        • benz145

          I would say the primary reason would be a cheaper overall headset.

          Remember this is a company which opted to continue using its PlayStation Move controllers going on 7 years now, not because they are the best option, but because they’re ‘good enough’, and cost saving, for PSVR to have sold better than any other VR headset to date.

      • brandon9271

        It might be a pain to set up but the most accurate and robust tracking in VR are outside in. It might be a pain to set up but CV1 was better than Quest or WMR. I actually WISH i could connect an external camera (or two) to supplement the garbage tracking of WMR.

    • nejihiashi88

      i agree it so dumb and im disappointed in sony if they really intend to make for psvr 2

  • Ted Joseph

    Interesting, but as a console gamer since Atari 2600, I am going to pass on consoles now. My PS4 pro (with PSVR which was fun) and Xbox One X are my last consoles… I have fast WIFI, and the Stadia works perfect. I see great things with cloud gaming (be it Stadia or something else that takes it over), and I am not going back to paying for hardware when a billion dollar company will pay for it for me, and let me just play games, anywhere, no updates, no hard drives, no expensive hardware, no cables, no cameras.. Just gaming. VR / AR will be awesome when it utilizes cloud architecture as well…

    • mfx

      Pff again the Stadia paid guy Ted that regularly promotes stadia over a full dedicated paragraph. Ridiculous.

    • Rogue Transfer

      Where users have no control, reliability of connection access, or permanence of the games they pay for.

      Change in licensing/business agreements, games pulled before you get to finish them. Just like we saw with nVidia’s recent streaming service when a number of big names pulled their games from it. Or even worse, you need to pay to subscribe to many Cloud services just to access exclusives!

      Adverts inserted(in future) in the streamed game service when you want to play without them. No way to bypass them either, all control is up in the Cloud service.

    • care package

      Holy shit It’s Ted one of the 7 Stadia users. Just my opinion but real gamers would never accept a stream only option, at least not yet.

    • Charles

      I don’t think I’m gonna get a next-gen console, but only because I already have a high-end PC for VR. I watched the new PS5 gameplay videos – the parts that were not clearly cutscenes didn’t look any better than current PC games. And this is not surprising – that’s how it usually goes.

      When the PS4 launched in 2013, I didn’t have a top-of-the-line PC, and VR hadn’t taken off yet. This launch is different.

    • brandon9271

      LATENCY

  • Rogue Transfer

    “There’s other possibilities too, like putting cameras on the controllers themselves which look for the headset’s glowing markers.”

    And so, the controllers would become inside-out tracking(like Vive & Valve Index controllers are with IR tracking sensors inside) rather than the outside-in. With the tracking sensors inside, looking out, rather than tracking controllers’ LEDs from the outside-in on a headset or TV set.

    The problems with putting cameras on controllers themselves is that it’s much easier to occlude them there with arms & body; or the other controller. It’d need more than one camera(like, three or more) and the processing & power drain would be both great and expensive. Highly unlikely.

    It will be interesting to see if they go for electro-magnetic or ultra-sonic tracking and the quality of it. They both allow for much more compact controller designs with no need for big rings for tracking.

    I’m most interested though in whether the PSVR 5 controllers will include the adaptive triggers.

    • benz145

      PSVR 5? Are you from the future? : P

  • nejihiashi88

    this is the most stupid idea for an HMD, the tracking should inside out tracking to make practical pc can ve out side in lile the valve index but on a console it is just stupid.

  • Adam Broadhurst

    I still believe PSVR2 wil have inside out tracking

    • silvaring

      I do too, probably will use the windows mixed reality tracking, so easier porting of games across console and pc. Then after a few years Sony maybe release their glove controllers, and a wireless headset (with wired functionality).

      • Moe Curley

        Will definitely NOT use windows mixed reality tracking. If it somehow, somehow does, it would be a first.

        • silvaring

          Sorry I didn’t mean the exact tracking system, I meant a similar system that is easily cross compatible, or parts of the system licensed to Sony. So kind of like how game controllers license parts of the tech inside of them (EG Bluetooth radios etc).

          • Moe Curley

            Yeah, your right I’m sure they come up with some kind of solid tracking those controllers were bad.

    • Moe Curley

      Makes sense.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    It’s a shame it’s in white..

    • Thinker

      I’m sure they will have a vinyl decal in your favorite color and scheme.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        ugh stickers.. way too much trouble..

    • Jonathan Winters III

      Especially in these current racially charged times.

  • TryDyeCry

    Im a simple man… I like the design, matches my black and white PC build. Jumping on the hype train for that alone, but I guess I should read the article lol

  • A fenek

    “Headset-based electromagnetic controller tracking—as seen in Magic Leap and Pico Neo 2—is one option.”
    If it’s as bad as the Magic Leap implementation then it’s definitely NOT an option. Even PSVR Move controllers are leaps and bounds (ha) better than that.

  • Tomaz Diniz

    I was very curious about this camera,no game announced for it,the light bar isnt there anymore to make in front of the camera light track, but i only think of it will be an camera to track VR and help make space…but no game showed and no more info..lets wait,i loved it appears an sea shell and i love it.

    Im more curious about the headset,would it be designed to fit on VR? how will the design of VR for ps5 appears? maybe something like the ps5 and controller?? im so excited and hyped. luckly we wont need the break out box on new psvr…im so hyped and anxious for more..soon… cant wait.

  • guest

    They are going to drop VR since their real uncooked numbers have shown what a failure it has been!

    • benz145

      A company would get in a lot of trouble for lying to the world (and its investors) about how many units of something it has sold. Of all the other peripherals Sony has introduced but ultimately cancelled (ie: PSP), I don’t think they’d risk lying about PSVR sales to try to VR’s image.

      • Guest

        Oh, they would not lie. The definition of a sale in a large multinational company is not a hard number, say like the number of human deaths. If you ever worked for that sort of company you would know sales numbers can be manipulated many, many quarters into the future.

  • Zack71

    This technology is ridicolous in 2020. Look at Oculus Quest, that doesn’t need cameras to track movement.
    I don’t think Sony will use camera to track PS VR 2.

    • ostinado

      But doesn’t the Vive uses Base stations in addition to inside-out tracking for higher resolution? It seems to me like Sony could do the same thing with this camera.

      • polysix

        Base stations are not cameras, quite the opposite. They send out markers TO the headset, they don’t read makers from the headset.

        Ex – vive owner.

        • ostinado

          Thank you for clarifying that, I didn’t know exactly how they worked. But I was just explaining my thinking as to why the new camera could very well be used for VR tracking.

          Inside-out tracking cannot track you hands behind your back, but if your back is towards the TV, the external camera could.

          I just don’t believe its old technology, or not useful for VR.

  • Uhm, I believe more on inside-out tracking, it is much easier to setup…

  • polysix

    I think it’ll use inside out tracking. I think it’ll be wirless (just like the new headphones). It’ll be similary styled in white/black.

    I think the new camera is so they can still sell one to have compatibility with last gen (PSVR1 and other camera needs). It’s not expensive and it makes sense. Doesn’t mean PSVR2 will use or require it, at all!

  • Kimberle McDonald

    cautiously optimistic, but feel it’s still going to be a baby-steps forward product with minor improvements at best.

    • AJ_74

      The PSVR only needs minor improvements. If they upgraded to 1440p panels and released Move controllers with analog sticks those changes alone, combined with the higher-res camera, would still constitute a giant leap forward for the PSVR experience. If they could improve the audio solution and FOV a bit, it would only be icing on the cake.

  • Rupert Jung

    Wish they could just sell a camera to mount on PSVR itself for Inside-Out tracking + controllers.

  • Datheo

    Thanks Very much for the Article Ben! Interesting.
    Everyone is hopeful for next-gen VR.

    A stereo front-cam could be coupled on top with inside-out tracking.
    I see a major use of front facing camera : Tracking body & feet.

    More ninja style games…might be dangerous for TV, but i’ll go for it