The PlayStation 5 is getting a virtual reality headset, Sony announced on Tuesday.
The new headset is the successor to PlayStation VR, which launched for the PlayStation 4 in 2016 and went on to sell over 5 million units. Though Sony didn’t share images of the new device, it’s said to provide, “dramatic leaps in performance and interactivity” over the previous generation.
Sony Senior Vice President of platform planning and management Hideaki Nishino shared a few more details about the new headset in a blog post:
It won’t launch in 2021.
It has a new type of controller, “which will incorporate some of the key features” of the PlayStation 5 gamepad.
It uses a single wire, rather than a series of cords (unlike the PlayStation VR headset for PS4).
The specs are getting upgraded, and Nishino promised improvements to, “everything from resolution and field of view to tracking and input.”
The original PlayStation VR headset works on the PlayStation 5, albeit with technology that was originally launched nearly five years ago.
“Obviously the technology has moved on since the first PlayStation VR headset, and we will capture that,” Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told the Financial Times.
Despite the success of the first PlayStation VR headset compared to other VR headsets, its sales numbers paled in comparison to the PlayStation 4 console itself. Sony has sold over 5 million PlayStation VR headsets, and over 110 million PlayStation 4 consoles.
Ryan said that virtual reality is a long-term project for PlayStation.
“PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we definitely believe at some point in the future, VR will represent a meaningful component of interactive entertainment,” he told the Washington Post. “Will it be this year? No. Will it be next year? No. But will it come at some stage? We believe that.”
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Zuckerberg was on the show to discuss futuristic technology from Facebook’s Reality Labs group, which specializes in augmented reality, virtual reality, and other platforms believed to be the future of human-computer interaction.
To that end, Zuckerberg discussed the promise of AR/VR as it applies to remote work. In the next 5 to 10 years, according to Zuckerberg, half of Facebook’s staff could be working remotely on a permanent basis – regardless of global pandemics.
Perhaps more notable than what Zuckerberg said on Clubhouse was his presence on the buzzy new social networking app – Facebook is notorious for replicating key features of its rivals through Facebook and Facebook’s subsidiaries. Instagram Stories, for instance, is largely a re-creation of a similar function on Snapchat.
Aside from positive buzz, Clubhouse has been repeatedly criticized for its moderation issues that overwhelmingly impact Black people and people of color, Grit Daily reported. “On Clubhouse,” the report said, “there are no screenshots. There is no way to drag up old Clubhouse posts years later like a user might do on Twitter. There is no way to record conversations – meaning there is no way to prove that someone said anything controversial at all. There’s no path to accountability.”
Clubhouse’s key functionality is voice-based communication: Users essentially join instanced group voice chat rooms, which other social networks don’t offer. The app is currently invite-only, but it’s expected to open up to everyone in the near future.
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But on Tuesday, Google confirmed in a blog post that it would halt development of the product, instead making its source code available on code-hosting platform Github.
“As we continue to build helpful and immersive AR experiences, we want to continue supporting the artists using Tilt Brush by putting it in your hands,” the blog read. “This means open sourcing Tilt Brush, allowing everyone to learn how we built the project, and encouraging them to take it in directions that are near and dear to them.”
Google released Tilt Brush for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset in 2016, and the program later became available on Facebook-owned Oculus Rift. The program allowed users to create colourful, 3D paintings and animations.
Despite billions of dollars of investments from big tech firms, virtual reality is still struggling to break into the mainstream, and for most remains a novelty rather than a mature entertainment platform.
A few weeks ago, Patrick Hackett, one of the co-creators of Tilt Brush, confirmed he was leaving Google in order to join I-Illusions, the games studio behind popular VR title Space Pirate Trainer.
“To my #TiltBrush community: You’ve been inspiring and encouraging and wonderful and I love you,” he wrote. “I’ve made so many great friends over these years and am indebted to you forever.”
Insider approached Google for comment.
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Apple’s initial headset release will operate primarily as a virtual-reality device, displaying an “all-encompassing 3-D digital environment” for users to do anything from game to watch videos or simply chat, according to the report. Gurman says the first headset’s augmented-reality capabilities will likely be “more limited” as the company continues to develop the technology.
The headset will reportedly be battery operated much like Facebook’s Oculus Quest and will not require a gaming console like PlayStation’s PSVR headset, though Apple’s product is expected to be much more expensive than its competitors which below $1,000.
Apple’s first headset will likely not be a product for the masses for some time
According to Gurman, some sources say the company may sell only one of the devices daily at each of its retail locations. If that’s the case, the product would firmly be on the niche end of Apple’s product lineup, closer to the unit sales of high-end devices like the Mac Pro, which starts at $6,000.
The VR headset would be a gamble on Apple’s part into a fairly new and undeveloped technology that has yet to gain meaningful traction with mainstream consumers.
The company’s main focus in developing the headset seems to be as a prototype, leading up to an eventual pair of AR glasses – a device that would be much more mainstream, Gurman reports.
The headset faces several hurdles before it can be released
Hardware companies in the VR and AR space often talk about eventual versions of their product that will more closely resemble traditional glasses, but such a device with compelling AR and VR features is a complex undertaking that utilizes bleeding-edge tech. So far, no company has pulled it off.
There’s also the question of whether enough people will actually buy such a device. Google’s Glass product was launched in 2013 and failed just two years later. But while wearable technology for the face can be a tough sell, Facebook has begun to see promising signs with the Oculus Quest 2.
Another key part of convincing people to buy such a device is the content that runs on it. Companies like Facebook and Valve have spent many millions funding the development of VR experiences.
Apple has been known to take on similarly ambitious products that have either flopped or never reached the market, including Ping an attempt to turn iTunes into a social network, the AirPower charging mat, and Apple’s Pippin gaming console.
But Apple CEO Tim Cook is bullish on augmented-reality, and appears to be pushing Apple into new categories in recent years.
In addition to new Apple Watch models, leaning into the services business, and launching high-end Apple headphones, Apple has also reportedly been working on a self-driving electric car since 2015. The project, codenamed “Project Titan,” has faced delays, and is not expected to be released for at least five years.
Outside of entering a new frontier with technology that is still evolving, the headset also faces several hurdles before it’s ready for launch, according to Gurman. Components used in the headset reportedly include powerful chips along with high-resolution displays, as well as a fan to cool the headset down. These additions have led the headset to become heavy enough to warrant concerns of possible neck strains, according to the report.