The Alternative Realities of Our Time

project morpheus the deep virtual reality demoAs with most virtual reality headsets, new worlds and breathtaking experiences are promised. Some virtual reality headsets deliver. Some don’t. However, Sony’s Project Morpheus does more than just promise a new world. It set a date of delivery and it’s sooner than fans had imagined.

The latest Game Developers Conference was full of surprises, yet among the technology, innovation and good news, there was something that thrilled gaming enthusiasts more than anything else. A headset that was first demoed in 2014 already has tech and gaming quivering because of the enormous shift it produced in the way video gaming is viewed. And this massive VR revolution is about to be shaken up after the launch date of Project Morpheus has finally been confirmed: the virtual reality headset will hit the shelves during the first half of 2016.

Initial Unveiling

the deep virtual rality demo game At the GDC 2014, Sony presented Project Morpheus to the entire world and in so doing, produced the first real competitor that Oculus Rift had in the field of virtual reality. Back then, Sony’s showfloor attracted massive queues with demos such as EVE Valkyrie, The Deep and Street Lounge. And of course, the device immediately piqued the interest of gamers interested in immersion and unique gaming experiences.

Hardware Improvements

sony project morpheus 2015 prototype

Although the headset already provided out-of-this-world experiences, improvements were required and the latest headset has been redesigned with this idea in mind. Where design is concerned, Sony has made massive strides. As compared to other VR headsets, the Morpheus is lighter and sleeker as well as user friendly. It is simple to put on and remove and the device’s visor is perfectly designed even for glasses-adorned folk, so that large frames are also neatly accommodated.

Sony also worked on weight distribution so that the headset becomes comfortable as opposed to Oculus Rift (which does cause some strain). The Morpheus 2.0 is also easily adjustable as opposed to previous versions: its release button located on the right hand side of the visor will immediately free it from the wearer’s face.better fit with morpheus 2.0

A single band is enough to secure the device in place while also ensuring that removing the headset isn’t too complicated. LEDS have also been added to the latest model so that there is a total of nine LEDS on the headset: three on each side, one at the faceplate’s center, one top respectively one bottom. Engineers and developers explain that these LEDS improve tracking accuracy.

Other improvements are also worth mentioning. Despite not sounding massive, Morpheus’ screen has also received an upgrade as opposed to the previous version. It is now equipped with a 5.7 inch, 1920x RGB x 1080 resolution OLED screen as opposed to last year’s 5 inch LCD screen. This makes a difference in image clarity. Additionally, there have also been several improvements where the field of view is concerned. It’s been stretched to 100 degrees.

Additionally, the headset now supports a whopping 120 frames per second output with a 120hz refresh rate, 3D audio as well as the newly-added social screen, where users take whatever it is they are seeing inside Morpheus’ visor and put it on a TV so that others can join in.

PlayStation 4 Coupling

coupling project morpheus playstation 4

The Project Morpheus headset is designed to function when hooked-up to Sony’s PlayStation 4. The game console has been especially designed to withstand stereoscopic 3D processing thanks to a state-of-the-art AMD graphics processor. However, an additional piece of hardware has been created by the tech giant, so that the specifics of any Project Morpheus operation can be smoothly handled. This secondary box links directly to the PS4 console via USB or HDMI, and, as an added bonus, it can be also connected to a screen so that viewers can witness the virtual world that the wearer is immersed in without any distortion.

And while all the specifications and the VR tech itself clearly show that Sony is heading in the right direction, there are other aspects which suggest that even Project Morpheus still needs a lot of work. Of course, making a VR headset palatable to the general public isn’t easy and there are many steps involved. Yet such technology is bound to come with a hefty price tag and Sony has to live up to its promise before offering a product which can’t live up to the consumer’s expectations.

What Project Morpheus Needs to Become a PS4 Reality

project morpheus virtual reality demo

Virtual reality is compelling. It’s so powerful, in fact, that when conveyed correctly, it can send wearers smashing into real-life walls still smiling. Project Morpheus is no exception. With Sony’s demos, such as The Deep, you never know what could virtually end up attacking you. Sony has wanted to finally commit to a firm launch window for some time and having worked out the kinks while also refining the hardware and designed have allowed them to do so. A finished product must deliver certain experiences and if Sony were to create an “experience that’s not good enough, it would turn people off.”

In this amazing race towards a consumer-ready virtual reality device, Sony must still undergo some changes. On the one hand, VR devices such as the Project Morpheus Headset require high-quality, engaging content to highlight every aspect of the hardware. In other words, demos and other apps have to correctly exemplify why Morpheus is not only worthwhile but also a necessity.

“You really need to be able to feel that you are standing on the edge of a cliff. Tech-wise, there are a few things we want to include to really nail it from a hardware and system software standpoint,” Shuhei Yoshida, Sony president.project morpheus valkyrie

Apart from the sense of presence, which is a top priority for Sony’s content, hardware improvements are also due. It seems that a “good system” isn’t enough (and in all honesty, why should consumers settle for good when they could potentially buy something great?).

Striking the perfect balance between a game that leverages the virtual reality experience perfectly while not overstepping the technology behind it is difficult. And Sony seems to be focusing on location-based entertainment.

In the end, Sony aims to create a product that is perfect the first time around so that customer can enjoy it for many years. It’s precisely why Project Morpheus experienced the conversion to 120hz. In the future, games will most likely be reprojected to 12 and this is an essential element when aiming for a smooth and responsive VR experience. Motion sickness and judder are eliminated when a VR device provides motion consistency and reprojection ensures that every refresh produces a new frame even when the last frame in the render queue hasn’t been completed.

“Sometimes a frame will be dropped, but using reprojection it’s still very smooth, and it’s always taking the latest data,” Joshida explains.

Most likely, now that the Morpheus 2.0 headset supports 120hz, developers will start focusing on gameplay rather than immersion. The technology is continuously being pushed and as opposed to last year’s “The Deep”, where wearers would slowly look around, leaps in technology and pixel persistence allow fast gameplay and quick movement.

So it remains to be seen whether a symbiotic relationship between VR developers and consumers will materialize into a VR headset that will revolutionize virtual reality gaming as we know it.

Extra Resources: Latest Virtual & Augmented Reality Devices

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