Sony's testing 3D Virtual Reality games, with headsets and everything. Early '90s, here we come

Every five years or so, someone tips Virtual Reality to "really take off soon". Sony has been showing off its twin-OLED screened headset at conventions for a while now, but it turns out that the device's development behind the scenes is actually going way beyond a simple 3D delivery system. In Sony's R&D lab, it's now incorporating head tracking and even having specific games developed to work with it. Better believe it - Virtual Reality may be making a(nother) comeback.

Mick Hocking, senior director at Sony Worldwide Studios, told Develop: “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. 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.”

Above: Looks shiny, doesn't it? But would you really wear this to play games?

Currently, the device is being tested with several game genres - including first-person shooters - although there are no firm launch plans at the moment. But prototypes like this wouldn't exist if Sony weren't taking it very seriously.

It all lends weight to the rumours that Betamax will replace Blu-Ray as the storage medium of choice in next-generation consoles, PlayStation Vita games will come on minidisc... oh, and then there's this allegedly leaked PS Move 'ring' that allows you to play actual stick and hoop games, for the first time as a standalone peripheral. No need for a PS3 to run this one:

Above: If an idea's fun, it doesn't matter how old it is. Look at their faces. Just look at them!

We josh, of course. Modern-day VR is undoubtedly going to be better than the crap-o-la stuff we paid through the nose to play on holiday in the early nineties. Head-tracked 3D via a system you already own? Could be the breakthrough needed to bring this to the masses. That, or we'll be writing about the next comeback of VR in another five years' time.

19 July, 2011

(Note - if you want to hear more from Mick Hocking, there's a video interview here)


  • narddog - July 20, 2011 6:35 a.m.

    I'd love to strap a Wii to my face, thanks sony.
  • rabidpotatochip - July 19, 2011 11:29 p.m.

    @jackthemenace - That's a shame, 1998 was a pretty good year. We had a party, everyone got free fireworks, Al Gore invented the Internet...
  • jackthemenace - July 19, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    ... I'm too young to remember anything before about 1999... Anyway, this does look pretty sweet, but like pimplesinyourasstista said, it could be hard for people needing to wear glasses. I'm wondering, since the game would be played through the headset which you wear, would it be possible to play this WITHOUT a television?
  • TheCakeIsaPie - July 19, 2011 5:48 p.m.

    @wicko: Ouch.
  • DirkSteele1 - July 19, 2011 4:16 p.m.

    Wow, it really is the early 90's again. I remember a lot of coverage from CES 93 on the Sega VR (Google it if you are curious) which just disappeared from release schedules some time in 1994. Official line on cancellation was the experience was too real and people would end up hurting themselves. While clearly PS3 etc have just a touch more processing power than the good old Megadrive, not learning from history can lead to big mistakes in the future...
  • S0ULEATER - July 19, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    Since the screens are close to your eyes It might not matter but it would really depend on how close it is to eyes and how bad of vision you have, like I have pretty bad eyesight but if it was under 3 inches from my face I'd probably be able to see the image clear... the real problem would be if you are one of those wow need reading glasses
  • xAlbireo6972x - July 19, 2011 2:39 p.m.

    Mayhaps I can play .hack and feel like I am part of the game.
  • SirCheesedip - July 19, 2011 2:20 p.m.

    Those will be my casual look!
  • MattOfSteel - July 19, 2011 2 p.m.

    Anybody that wears these would just come off looking like "Dorky LaForge".
  • Y2Ken - July 19, 2011 1:47 p.m.

    Hmmm... have to wait and see on this one I think. Also yeah glasses could be an issue.
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - July 19, 2011 1:36 p.m.

    Biggest question I can think of: What if you wear glasses? Doesn't look like there is any room under that vision for 'em.
  • rabidpotatochip - July 19, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    "All Sony need now is a simple gardener to test this on." Best movie reference ever. Took me an hour to get it. lol
  • myguyfromthe80s - July 19, 2011 12:48 p.m.

    I see that helmet and all I can think of is Jobe from 1992
  • rabidpotatochip - July 19, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    I remember playing Rise of The Triad on one of these at a computer show back in the early 90s. The helmet was bloody heavy and had about a hundred wires sticking out of the back, I had to operate a joystick "blind" and was put in a special "corral" so I wouldn't fall over turning around. I figure they'll get the weight issue out of the way just because they've had at least 16 years to fix it (God, I feel old) but until you can jury-rig a Kinect into this system and control it with your hands I don't think you can call it a true VR setup.
  • bass88 - July 19, 2011 12:31 p.m.

    Bit late for FIRST, mate. All Sony need now is a simple gardener to test this on.
  • ShadowBroker23 - July 19, 2011 12:27 p.m.

    FIRST ?
  • superdude0905 - July 19, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    Neck injuries here we come!! And as always, great Photoshoping, because my Move has never made me that happy
  • wicko - July 19, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    Well, they aren't Nintendo so don't worry about them releasing new tech before it's perfected.

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