Based on Sony's HMZ personal 3D viewer head-mounted display, the Prototype-SR mixes real-time video with prerecorded video to create a unique new entertainment experience. The Prototype-SR is currently on display at the Tokyo Game Show 2012, and I had a chance for some hands-on time with the device in an interactive demo. This is a prototype, and there are currently no plans to launch it. Can you put a release date on the future?
The demo took place in a sterile white room with a chair, the Prototype-SR and a real female guide. The guide set up the device on my head and the demonstration began. The guide directed me to look left and right to show what I was looking at is a real-time image of the room being fed to the display monitors via the camera on the front of the Prototype-SR. Then, I was shown a two minute movie trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution.
After the trailer, the screen returned to the video feed of the room where the guide proceeded with the demonstration. At this point, the lights in the room suddenly began to flicker, and the guide seemingly grew ill and collapsed. While I knew this portion was a pre-recorded sequence featuring the same guide, I was able to suspend my disbelief. The ability to move my head an look around made the whole thing all the more real. The guide then rose again as a zombie and lunged at me, causing me to jump. What can I say, it was a good scare. The display went black and I once again returns to a live feed of the room with the real guide.
The technology itself is for promotional use only, and in its current form has obvious limitations. As the prerecorded sequences were taken from the view of someone sitting in a chair, standing up can potentially break the visual effect. Audio is another limiting factor which can only really be overcome through the use of noise cancelling headphones. Another drawback is that while prerecorded sequences can be viewed from different angles, because they are prerecorded, they can be shown on top of live images, but not behind, so while you can reach out and see your hand in a live feed, your hand will not appear in a prerecorded sequence.
Nevertheless, even the with current restrictions, the possibilities are astounding. I'd never seen anything like it. There were moments during the demonstration where I literally could not tell what was real and what was not.
The Prototype-SR is very much an experimental prototype (hence the name). As mentioned above, according to a Sony spokesperson, the purpose for its development is to showcase the potential of the HMZ and that there currently are no definite plans to market the Prototype-SR.