Sony announced significant upgrades to its Project Morpheus Virtual Reality headset for the PlayStation 4 at the Game Developers Conference on Tuesday. With Facebook’s Oculus Rift garnering support and Valve throwing its hat in the ring with a partnership with HTC, VR headsets look to be the next big battleground for games and consumers.
Project Morpheus was first unveiled with a 5-inch LCD screen that supported 60 frames per second. The new prototype unveiled at GDC sports a 5.7-inch OLED display that runs at a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Even better, it will support a 120Hz refresh rate (120 fps) with a latency of 18ms. A high refresh rate and low-latency are critical for virtual reality experiences that are not disorienting to the user.
The headset is also increasing the number of tracking LEDs from six to nine. These LEDs are built off the PlayStation Move technology, which Project Morpheus is also compatible with in addition to the PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller. A PlayStation Camera is required, along with a PlayStation 4 console.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) March 3, 2015
“We believe VR will shape the future of games,” Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida wrote. “I can’t wait for you to try Project Morpheus when it launches in the first half of 2016.”
That’s the first mention of a release date for Project Morpheus and one that may potentially beat the competition. Facebook’s Oculus Rift is still in development and while there have been statements attributed to anonymous Oculus VR management that a consumer version will be available in 2015, there’s been nothing official yet.
Meanwhile, Valve just announced a partnership with HTC for the Vive VR headset at the Mobile World Congress this past Sunday and is expected to make another presentation at GDC this week. However, there has not been a hint of a release date. Update: In the midst of writing this article, Valve announced that the Vive is aiming for a 2015 release.
Technology-wise, Project Morpheus boasts the better resolution and frame rate over the competition. The HTC Vive has the hook off two independent screens running at 1200 x1080 and 90Hz, however. It also boasts a “room scale experience” that will allow users to move around a 15 foot x 15 foot room.
The resolution of the latest version of the Oculus Rift is unknown, but rumored to be running at 1440p (via PC World) and a high, though unspecified, refresh rate. It supports 360 degree tracking like the Valve’s and HTC’s Vive.
This is all shaping up to be a very interesting battle in a new space that industry analysts are expecting to boom. Microsoft is skipping out on the battle thus far and is electing to go with the augmented reality HoloLens instead.