VR unit-awaiting heads up, gamers and tech fans. Sony has announced that Project Morpheus, its virtual reality add-on for PlayStation 4, will go on sale during the first half of 2016. And the latest build is boasting some impressive stats.
It may have been in development for years, but when Sony lifted the lid on its virtual reality headset at Game Developers Conference last year, many – most notably those who had either backed or firmly believed the path to VR enlightenment to be Kickstarter success story Oculus Rift – were quick to suggest that the Japanese tech company’s device would be a poor imitation of VR, pointing to Oculus’ superior specs and enormous number of financial backers and supporters.
A year on, and neither headset is yet available for consumers to buy, but today at GDC 2015, Sony Computer Entertainment announced that Project Morpheus will be in consumers’ hands in the first half of 2016. And with it they have announced a slew of improvements to the already impressive device.
- Morpheus now has a 5.7 inch OLED display. After receiving comments from users who noticed some image blurring while using the 2014 model, Sony has fitted the newest version of Morpheus with a 1920 x RGB x 1080 OLED display. What that means is that the pixels which make up the image each contain red, green and blue “sub-pixels” which flicker on and off, thus helping to eliminate the kind of blur often seen on regular LCD displays.
- The screen now boasts a 120hz refresh rate – double that of the previous model – and a latency of only 18 milliseconds. That’s fast. Developers can reportedly render their games at 60fps but output at 120fps thanks to a technique known as “reprojection”, thus enabling a smoother experience less likely to result in user motion sickness.
- The unit’s field-of-view has been bumped up from 90 degrees to 100, which, while not quite as wide as Oculus Rift’s, has reportedly made a noticeable difference to the slight “letterbox” effect that some users commented on in 2014.
- Users can now quickly and easily lift up the display panel section without removing the headset entirely – something that will probably come in handy when your cat rubs up against your leg while you’re being stalked by an acid-spitting Xenomorph or exploring a snake-filled cave and you just have to know what just touched you IRL.
- The headset has also been given additional motion-tracking sensors which work with the PlayStation Camera, going from six in the model shown last year to nine, allowing for greater accuracy and 360-degree head tracking.
Of course, all of this is subject to change, and at the rate at which VR tech is improving, we can almost certainly count on a few more improvements by the time the unit is available to buy. But judging by these figures, providing Sony can launch Project Morpheus at an affordable price point (and hopefully with a new name), this could well prove to be the perfect entry model for those looking to make their first foray into the world of virtual reality, minimal tinkering and technical know-how required. And while the unit may or may not end up being eclipsed by its competitors in terms of technical prowess, Gizmodo UK’s Sean Hollister has already gone on record to state that Project Morpheus is easily the most comfortable virtual reality unit he has ever used, even going as far as to call it “the best I’ve ever tried”. Colour us excited.
As for the actual games? Well, Sony has promised to show us more this June at E3. And, really, as impressive as all of these new stats are, that’s what’s going to make or break virtual reality at the end of the day. Let’s hope they deliver.