This time last year, during GDC 2014, Sony revealed their Project Morpheus virtual reality headset. The PlayStation 4 peripheral has now had a full year for tweaks and adjustments, and the unit that is available at GDC 2015 is certainly an impressive piece of tech.
Morpheus uses an OLED screen with a resolution of “1920 by RGB by 1080”. Sony says that each pixel on the OLED display has three sub-pixels: one for Red, one for Green and a third for Blue. This allows for a low persistence display capable of refresh rates as high as 120 Hz. That refresh rate is all important for VR as it helps eliminate issues that ultimately lead to motion sickness. A 120 Hz refresh rate is impressive, especially when you consider that Valve and HTC’s Vive is boasting a 90 Hz refresh rate on their VR unit.
Of course, that 120 Hz begs the question: can the PS4 output at 120 fps? According to Sony’s Yoshida, the PlayStation 4 was actually designed to render games at 120 fps, so it looks like the two pieces of hardware will play really nicely together. This is the first we’ve heard of the PlayStation 4 being able to push 120 fps, and this feature will be added via a system software update at some point in the future. According to the press release we received: “via a system software update, all PS4 systems will handle native 120fps output when connected to Morpheus.”
Some other things worth highlighting: Morpheus uses a single 5.7″ screen on a wrap around, “band” visor; unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which utilise lenses to “split” a single display for each eye. This single screen sits right up close, providing a 90° field of vision. The human eye has a 114° FOV, so this might lead to users being able to distinguish screen borders, which could wreck the VR immersion. We haven’t actually tried a Morpheus unit so we can’t confirm whether or not this is worth fretting about.
The Morpheus screen can also be moved away from the face on a sort of hinged arm. That’ll be useful for when you need to see what you’re actually doing in the real world, such as positioning your hands properly on a controller, or having a conversation with another person in the room.
Finally, a further three tracking LEDs have been added to the unit, bringing the total up to nine. This, along with more streamlined and effective latency reduction tech, means that this new version of Morpheus has much better head tracking in a 360° area.
During GDC, Sony had a number of VR experiences on show. Game Informer has written a really nice summary of each of the four tech demos.
Finally, Sony announced that the unit will be made available to the public during the first half of 2016. No price has been set.