Grown ups get all the fun. No, seriously, they do. A safety notice as part of the PS4 3.5 beta firmware update uncovered by KGrizzly on Reddit states clearly that the PlayStation VR headset is "not for use by children under age 12." This adds to the precedent already set by Oculus and Gear VR which already has a 13 and up safety guide.
But why is this? I've done some digging and VR simulation specialist kumoishibo on Reddit has a nice clear explanation. They work with Gear VR on a regular basis and say that "The biggest issue when dealing with children and any Head Mounted Display (HMD), is to take into consideration the Interpupillary distance (IPD)." Simply put, IPD is the distance between the centre of the pupils in our eyes. It's essential info for binocular viewing systems where pupils need to be positioned within a certain range to experience VR correctly and without strain.
"Adult averages usually fall around 63mm however there is quite a variation based on gender, race, and age making these values fluctuate between 48 and 73 mm," explains kumoishibo. "This means the further your eyes are from this average, the more distorted your view will be. Young children on the other hand have values that span between 40-55mm. So for them, their perspective through the GearVR could be so erroneous that the perceived display will be very incorrect and can cause (short term) disorientation, discomfort, headaches, migraines, eye-strain or even nausea. Because of this, we usually discourage young children from using HMDs unless they are using a properly calibrated device."
Basically this means that PlayStation VR, just like Oculus and Gear VR, doesn't have a set up that can accommodate much smaller IPDs. This is sure to cause some problems at retail as parents want to buy the latest tech for their children but it's a really clear message that it's just not going to be a healthy activity. As VR is very much in its infancy, it'll be really interesting to see if this changes and headsets for younger eyeballs are made available. Until then we're expecting a price and release date for PlayStation VR at next week's Sony GDC event.
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