Sony's PlayS­ta­tion VR set to launch next week

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

The world of vir­tual re­al­ity is hot­ting up and Sony will be the lat­est to com­pete if the com­pany's up­com­ing PlayS­ta­tion VR event next week turns out to be the of­fi­cial launch, as an­tic­i­pated. The Ja­panese firm is host­ing an in­vite-only event in San Fran­cisco on 15 March, which is likely to fea­ture the of­fi­cial launch of Sony's PlayS­ta­tion VR, pre­vi­ously co­de­named Pro­ject Mor­pheus.

The in­vi­ta­tion is also in line with Sony's prom­ise that its VR head­set would go on sale in the 'first half of 2016' when its of­fi­cial name was re­vealed last Septem­ber.

The event will be fol­lowed by 'hands-on' demos, sug­gest­ing there will be some new hard­ware on dis­play for at­ten­dees to try out.

As far as we know, the PlayS­ta­tion VR has a head-mounted dis­play with 1080p HD res­o­lu­tion and a 90-de­gree field of view, while sen­sors built into the head­set track head move­ments.

There's no of­fi­cial word on how much PlayS­ta­tion VR will cost.

How­ever, ear­lier this year, a list­ing on Ama­zon's Canada site ap­pear­ing to have been posted by ac­ci­dent re­vealed the head­set will cost $1,125 CAD, which con­verts to $800 USD or £770. The price was re­moved shortly af­ter and Sony said in a state­ment: 'This was an er­ror by Ama­zon, we haven't an­nounced price for PlayS­ta­tion VR.'

Iit is not clear if this means that the post­ing of the list­ing was an er­ror, or the price shown on the list­ing was the mis­take the state­ment refers to. Nev­er­the­less, if true, that's over £200 than ri­val Ocu­lus Rift's price tag.

Given the sig­nif­i­cant, £200 price dif­fer­ence be­tween Ocu­lus' and Sony's de­vice, it sug­gests the lat­ter may be tar­get­ing an even higher-end mar­ket, or it may come with a range of PS4 ac­ces­sories bun­dled in.

It also goes against pre­dic­tions made by an­a­lysts who ex­pected the Sony ver­sion to be cheaper than Ocu­lus' to ap­peal to a wider range of gamers, es­pe­cially those who al­ready use the PS4. Sony's chief ex­ec­u­tive Kaz Hi­rai said at Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in Las Ve­gas in Jan­uary that it has more than 200 de­vel­op­ers work­ing on 100 new ti­tles for the PlayS­ta­tion VR. He said: 'I think the fact that we have more than 200 de­vel­op­ers signed up to the PlayS­ta­tion VR pro­gram who are work­ing on prob­a­bly more than 100 ti­tles that will play on PlayS­ta­tion VR, is a tes­ta­ment to the kind of sup­port that we're get­ting from the con­tent cre­ation com­mu­nity on PlayS­ta­tion VR.'

VR is one of the big­gest trends in tech­nol­ogy at the mo­ment, with dozens of firms jump­ing on the band­wagon and de­vel­op­ing VR head­sets.

The most highly an­tic­i­pated is Face­book's Ocu­lus Rift, set for an April 2016 re­lease. HTC and Valve an­nounced plans to re­lease its Vive VR sys­tem to con­sumers later this year. Google is also bol­ster­ing its An­droid sup­port for VR and is de­vel­op­ing a smart­phone-based sys­tem to ri­val Gear VR, the Sam­sung-Ocu­lus Rift col­lab­o­ra­tion.

PlayS­ta­tion VR will di­rectly com­pete with the likes of HTC Vive.

When pre-or­ders for the Vive sys­tem opened last week, the Tai­wanese firm was sell­ing 1,500 ev­ery minute, ac­cord­ing to a de­vel­oper on the pro­ject. Shen Ye, who works in HTC's VR team tweeted: ' Woah, more than 15k units in less than 10 min' with a sur­prised face emoji.'

The head­set has a front-fac­ing cam­era, re­designed head­strap, an im­proved vis­ual sys­tem with brighter dis­plays and costs £689 in the UK and $799 in the US.

Mean­while, while the vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) in­dus­try con­tin­ues to grow at an im­pres­sive rate, there's been lit­tle men­tion of how com­pat­i­ble the tech will be for chil­dren. Ocu­lus VR and Sam­sung have set at 13+ age limit for us­ing the Gear VR mo­bile-based head­mounted dis­play (HMD), and it's thought the for­mer might also do the same for the up­com­ing Ocu­lus Rift. Sony Com­puter En­ter­tain­ment (SCE), how­ever, has re­cently sug­gested that it will be set­ting an age limit just a lit­tle lower than this for its PlayS­ta­tion VR HMD for PlayS­ta­tion 4.

"Some peo­ple may ex­pe­ri­ence mo­tion sick­ness, nau­sea, dis­ori­en­ta­tion, blurred vi­sion or other dis­com­fort while view­ing the con­tents of the vir­tual re­al­ity. If you ex­pe­ri­ence any of th­ese symp­toms, stop use im­me­di­ately and re­move the VR head­set," the notes con­clude.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see if SCE pro­vides any rea­son­ing be­hind this age limit. There are many fac­tors to con­sider in giv­ing chil­dren VR ex­pe­ri­ences, both in terms of health and safety as well as suit­abil­ity of con­tent that's greatly en­hanced by the medium. Some of the big­gest moral pan­ics of the past few decades have re­volved around kids get­ting their hands on videogames that they aren't old enough to play and you can be sure that such de­bates will carry over into the realm of VR.

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