Speaking this week at the Collision 2019 conference in Toronto, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Vice President of Research and Development, Dominic Mallinson, detailed a number of “must-have ‘evolutionary’ improvements” for future VR headsets.

As reported by VentureBeat, Mallinson reiterated that Sony is still strongly behind its PlayStation VR initiative, and has plans to continue its work in VR on PS5.

“There are over 96 million PlayStation 4s in the market today. And every single one of those is capable of delivering a great VR experience. So we’d like to convert many, many more of those people to be PSVR users. And we won’t just stop with PS4.”

With 4.2 million PSVR headsets sold as of March, Sony is believed to have a strong sales lead among tethered VR headsets, but it has remained extremely tight-lipped about the future of the headset hardware itself, which is showing its age three years on and in the face of new headsets from competitors.

Mallinson steered clear of specifically talking about a “PSVR 2,” but he dove more generally into “rapid improvements in VR tech [which] will further widen its appeal.”

The inner workings of the original PSVR | Image courtesy iFixit (BY-NC-SA)

Specifically, Mallinson listed three “must-have ‘evolutionary’ improvements” for future VR headsets: improved resolution, wider field of view, and high dynamic range.

Of the three, high dynamic range (HDR) is the most surprising to be named a “must-have,” given that no existing mass-produced VR headset uses HDR, nor are many other headset makers even talking about it right now.

HDR is the ability of a display to produce ranges of brightness that far exceed standard displays, thereby allowing the display to more realistically portray ultra high contrast scenes, like those with bright sunlight, fire, explosions, and more.

Though HDR isn’t in any headsets today, Sony set a precedent for surprising the industry with its VR display tech—the current PSVR is the only consumer headset using an RGB OLED display, and on top of that it’s capable of a 120Hz refresh rate which still hasn’t been matched three years later (Valve’s Index headset will exceed it when it launches in June).

Mallinson says he expects HDR to be “adopted in the near future,” and the writing may already be on the wall; display maker AUO recently announced a new high-res VR display with a whopping 2,304 dimming zones for HDR.

Next-gen PlayStation Will Support Current PSVR, Sony Confirms

More obvious than HDR, Mallison also said he expects resolution and field of view to increase.

Most VR headsets today have a field of view of around 100 degrees, he said, but he expects “the next set of products to be roughly 120 degrees in terms of field of view.” On the resolution front, he expects resolution to “roughly double in the next set of VR products,” though it isn’t clear from the VentureBeat report if “double” referred to total pixel count, pixels per inch, or the count of pixels along each axis of the display. PSVR’s current display has 960 × 1,080 resolution per eye, which is lagging behind more recent headsets.

PSVR’s unique lens | Image courtesy iFixit (BY-NC-SA)

From there, Mallinson moved from the ‘evolutionary’ improvements to ‘revolutionary’. The first thing he touched on were the challenges of the tether and ease of use.

“Being tethered to this cable is inconvenient. And it’s not just about getting tangled up in the cable. It’s not just about the restriction in your motion,” he said, according to VentureBeat. “It’s also about how you set things up, how you configure the system, where you store it. Let’s face it, having a mess of cables in your living space is just not attractive. So this is something that we have to solve in order to get wider adoption.”

Mallinson suggested that 60GHz wireless tech is steadily improving and could be a viable option, though he said that wireless “might well remain an option, because it will be more costly than with the cable.”

Inside PSVR’s visor | Image courtesy iFixit (BY-NC-SA)

Finally, he talked about eye-tracking, saying he thinks it has the “greatest potential to change the VR user experience at a pretty fundamental level.” Here’s a list of reasons why he’s probably right.

Mallinson said that eye-tracking would be useful in a next-generation headset for things like understanding user intent, enhancing social presence, reading user biometrics, and foveated rendering—the latter being perhaps one of the most important applications of the technology with regards to improving rendering efficiencies as display resolution increases.

But for Mallinson, it’s what eye-tracking will enable in terms of input that’s most exciting.

“That’s my number one point about next-generation VR: Gaze will allow much, much richer user interaction,” he said.

Mallinson’s talk covered even more ground, including VR’s unique impact as a medium, and how content is key to making VR great; check out VentureBeat’s report for more.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • ivan

    But it won’t) Or it will cost $1500

  • nejihiashi88

    if sony do this right, with eye tracking, high resolution, inside out tracking, better controllers, good price and launch with ps5 bundle this could mark the mass adoption to vr.

    • jj

      or ya know the 400$ quest that just came out could spark mass adoption. its cheaper but a very similar experience

      • DarkAvry

        Trash mobile graphics, thats what quest

    • ShiftyInc

      No way that all these things and a good price for mass adoption will happen at the same time. It will either cost a fortune, or you have a small upgrade to the previous PSVR for cheap.

      • nejihiashi88

        yeah i think so too, but we can hope for the best, i think eye tracking is hard to do at the current time, but at least 2k resolution will help alot with other improvements.

    • Darshan

      We really don’t need Eye Tracking, Wireless now… Only Higher resolution, Inside Out Tracking thus less clutter and easy setup, better controllers and good price is prime necessity

      • Moe Curley

        Right this minute we need wireless bandwidth.

  • Yes, but with all those features… how much would it cost?

    • Bob

      Probably two SKUs; a cheaper unit that’s tethered to the PS5 and a more expensive wireless enabled ( through 5g or some other way)

      • Darshan

        We don’t need wireless so eagerly compared to
        1) No break up box
        2) Only Single soft non obtrusive cable
        3) No PS Camera
        4) No psky move controllers but more accurate controllers
        5) More rich resolution (at-least 2K at 120Hz)
        6) Price no more than $300/350

    • Darshan

      Odyssey+ is super rich hmd ….in past during many sales it was just costing $350.

  • Jarilo

    Dre-he-he-he-heeeam dream dream dreaaaaaaam Dre-he-he-he-heeeam dream dream dreaaaaaaam . Give me a break, they can’t even solve their move controllers now but they gonna have everything the next time around.

  • Darshan

    “Sony Hints Next-gen PSVR Could Bring HDR, Wireless, Eye-tracking & More” is title but really what sony need to bring…most possible and viable option

    1) Only single cable out from PSVR headset that connect to PS5 with HDMI and USB3 (same as WMR)
    2) Resolution of 2560X1440 single RGB OLED display with 120Hz refresh
    3) WMR tracking for headset and WMR type controllers so that no need for PS Camera
    4) Over the head audio like Rift CV1
    5) Bring pricing of headset to $300
    6) Port complete PS4 games to PS5 with new resolution support.

    Indeed this formula need nothing more….not even HDR,

    PS5 actually needs little boost in resolution and more simplified clutter/cables/Break Out Box free setup with Windows Mixed Reality style inside out tracking for headset and controllers both which make setup easy as breeze and pricing same as most WMR like Lenovo, Acer and HP …being sold at around $300 its very much possible for sony..also WMR tracking is accurate by wide margin when compared with MOVE for sure.

    • nejihiashi88

      nah windows mixed reality tracking is bad, even the oculus quest is better double the cameras and it is using a mobile processor.

      • Darshan

        Ohh then Rift S..Still its better to clutter PS Camera needs

        • nejihiashi88

          yeah i agree inside out tracking for playstation is a huge step forward

    • PJ

      Wireless, it has to be wireless

  • Thunk

    And all the games will be censored by PlayStation HQ in California.

  • sfmike

    Love the picture of the PSVR lens. What we need is better lens and an end of the Fresnel lens and it’s damn god rays. At least Sony never gave us those losers.

  • PJ

    Not too bothered about eye tracking just yet, don’t get me wrong it’s going to play a huge part in all VR headset in the future, but right for VR to go mainstream, it has to wireless, either an all in one like the Quest, or wireless streaming from a Console, PC or even the cloud (years away, sadly)

  • Seems like pie-in-the-sky kinda stuff. Maybe he’s just quoting a wishlist? Sony is good, but to have all of those improvements in a year, or even 3, I sort of doubt.

  • care package

    Love language of speculation. We COULD get hit by a giant meteor and all life destroyed before then too, that I know for sure.

  • oompah

    Very right approach
    but weight is a big issue

  • impurekind

    I actually really want Sony to announce a PSVR2, because I don’t think a PS5+PSV2 would end up costing more than a Valve Index, which is the VR headset I’m currently most interested in, and I think it would be a genuine alternative and probably my preferred choice to any other PC option out there right now.

    • Jerald Doerr

      Man… Your right… Even if it’s $499 for PS5 and $499 for PSVR2 you’re ending up with killer PC and more than decent VR…

    • Enjoy that Washed out LCD Screen at 120 hz!! Yay!! 120 hz of Nothing Colors!! WOOOHOO!!!

  • Lucidfeuer

    “120°” in 2022…fuck no, fuck that, FOV° has been an obsolete brake to VR for 6 years now.

  • Trevor Jones

    Hiw crazybwould it be if psvr2 was actually more inline with vive cosmos. Standalone but could optionally connect to to a ps4/5.

    That would kind of start a bit of a vr console war between cosmos, psvr2 and quest.

    Quest has been labelled a VR Console but I think they missed the mark by not allowing games downloaded to the console to work regardless if whos logged in.

  • This is very exciting… although at this point, I kinda like Steam’s VR market the best. It’s not device dependent. I don’t like Oculus’s own software market as it’s just for Oculus devices. It would take alot before I’d go back into Sony’s “Walled Garden”.

    But I have to say, if all of this comes to pass, I *might* consider it…