Prototype headset tracks player movements; Virtual Reality revival 'certainly possible'
The forgotten fad of virtual reality gaming may be set for a surprise revival, with Sony confirming to Develop that it is experimenting on the technology within its studios.
Mick Hocking, senior director at Sony Worldwide Studios, said that a prototype device used to test virtual reality also displays high-end 3D.
“We've got a new head mounted display [in development] that we showed at Consumer Electronics Show,” Hocking said in a newly published interview with Develop.
He said the prototype device (pictured below) has twin-OLED screens – one for each eye – to eliminate information crossover issues.
Now further developments have led Sony to incorporate head-tracking into the device, paving the way for a virtual reality experience.
The tech is being experimented on with a number of games including first-person shooters, but there appears to be no solid product launch plans for now.
“At the moment it’s just a head-mounted display; the head isn’t being tracked – but that’s something we’re doing R&D on,” Hocking said.
“I have to say, what we’ve done in the R&D projects has just been fantastic. We’re working with a couple of games at Sony that are experimenting with virtual reality type experiences.”
Hocking’s comments come ahead of his Develop Conference keynote on Sony’s 3D strategy.
PlayStation 3 already has more than 30 games available in 3D, Hocking said.
The prototype head-mounted display is just one of Sony’s options in incorporating 3D tech across its hardware catalogue.
“One of the cool things we’ve just announced is our new PlayStation monitor,” Hocking added.
“This is not only a great HD, 2D and 3D monitor, but it also supports a unique feature that lets two players play head-to-head gaming, full-screen on the same screen without each other seeing the other’s screen.
“This is going to be great feature that many developers are really excited about.”
Virtual Reality games rose and fell in popularity during the early nineties.
The concept is to cover a player’s eyes with a head-set-display that could also track and represent player movements in realtime.
The most popular example in the west was the Virtuality line of arcade machines, produced by Virtuality Group.
Nintendo attempted to bring virtual reality-like experiences in the home with the Virtual Boy system, which ultimately failed to make an impact.
Few developments in virtual reality game technology have occurred since.
But asked whether he thought virtual reality gaming is due a revival, Hocking said: “yeah it could be, it certainly seems possible, and these head-mounted displays incorporate 3D tech. It’s very, very cool. And obviously it’s a fantastic way to experience 3D because both images are being directly fed into each eye.”
To read Mick Hocking's interview in full go here.