Report: Next-Gen PlayStation VR Is Sounding Pretty Impressive

Report: Next-Gen PlayStation VR Is Sounding Pretty Impressive
Sony's next-gen PlayStation VR controllers support inside-out tracking and a couple types of haptics. (Image: Sony / Kotaku)

Sony’s next-generation virtual reality hardware for PlayStation 5 will include a number of fancy features and even some forward-thinking technologies that are not yet available on popular consumer VR headsets, according to a report on UploadVR.

Citing “reliable sources,” UploadVR reports that the next PlayStation VR headset will feature eye tracking and foveated rendering, haptic feedback, inside-out controller tracking, an IPD adjustment dial, and a per-eye resolution of 2000 x 2040 pixels (4000 x 2080 total).

Eye Tracking and Foveated Rendering

So, what’s all that jargon mean? Let’s start with eye tracking, which will let the headset know exactly what you’re looking at in a scene. Developers could use this as a form of input, or to make your avatar’s gaze more lifelike to other players in games like VR Chat. (Along similar lines, the HTC VIVE PC headset has a face-tracking accessory that lets your facial expressions translate into VR. No word on if Sony’s next is planning to include any face-tracking capabilities.)

Eye tracking also opens the door to a long-hyped graphical technique called foveated rendering. Basically, this would let the headset to devote extra GPU power to wherever you’re currently looking, and expend considerably less GPU resources on areas in your peripheral vision. This could conceivably allow for more detailed scenes to be rendered with the same amount of GPU power, though I don’t think we’ve seen this proven out in any mainstream commercial VR product yet.

The Oculus Quest and Quest 2 currently support a more basic technique called “fixed foveated rendering,” which lets a developer activate foveated rendering manually and without the insight gleaned from eye tracking. This increases performance, but the drawback is your gaze is free to wander over to the parts of the screen that are now low-res, because the VR system can’t tell you’re sneakin’ a peek at its ugly bits. The new PlayStation VR headset will know where you’re looking and be able to adjust the resolution so it always looks good.

Resolution and IPD Adjustment

Speaking of graphics, the new Sony headset’s suggested per-eye resolution of 2000 x 2040 pixels is just slightly north of 4K, and also slightly higher than Oculus Quest 2’s 1832 x 1920 per eye. At that res, the Quest 2 is largely free of the “screen door effect” which plagued earlier VR headsets, so that’s great news for the potential PlayStation device. The Quest 2 also has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, but there’s no word, rumour or otherwise, about the forthcoming Sony’s max refresh.

The UploadVR story suggests that the new hardware will feature a lens separation adjustment dial, which is another way of saying you’ll be able to more precisely tell it the distance between the pupils of your eyes. Ensuring a headset matches your interpupillary distance, or IPD, is an important factor in getting a solid, comfortable 3D image. The Oculus Quest 2, as good as it is, has been criticised for only offering three discrete IPD settings instead of a more adjustable dial, as some users’ IPD measurements fall in between those discrete settings.

Inside-Out Tracking

Most earlier consumer VR hardware required special sensors set up around your play area to track the positions of your controllers; this “outside-in” tracking was a huge pain in the butt. Inside-out tracking, such as seen in the Oculus Quest devices, lets the headset itself track where your controllers are via built-in cameras, with no external sensors to worry about. It’s definitely the way to go.

Haptic Feedback

UploadVR’s sources also claim the next-gen Sony headset will feature haptic feedback via a built-in motor, giving developers a new way to help players feel the in-game action. The new motor in the headset will be in addition to the touch-centric features already announced for the next-gen PSVR controllers (pictured up top), including adaptive triggers that can offer resistance (just like on the normal DualSense controller) and the controllers’ own haptic feedback features. Long story short, high-quality rumble is on the menu.

Still Wired, Though

If you’ve been reading this and thinking, “This compares very favourably with the Oculus Quest 2” you’re not alone, because it sure does. Perhaps the one major place Sony’s forthcoming PlayStation VR headset will come up short in that comparison is that it’s still going to be wired. A single USB-C cable will run between your headset and the PlayStation 5. That’s an improvement on the current PlayStation VR’s unwieldy, multi-wire breakout box, but still a far way from the elegance and freedom of a wireless headset like Quest 2.

Aside from the wired thing, the purported details in these leaks are pretty encouraging, and suggest that Sony remains serious when it says, “our commitment to virtual reality as a medium for games is stronger than ever.” While this next-gen PlayStation VR won’t be launching this year, here’s hoping PlayStation 5 players can eventually enjoy some top-tier VR alongside their Oculus Quest 2 and PC VR brethren.

Comments

  • Probably the biggest thing I want next-gen VR to start doing is larger FOV, the 90-110deg we often seen currently is WAY too small unless your someone with narrow vision already (plenty of people it seems).

    I want to start seeing 150 and up for FOV as a standard.

    • Would be nice for sure!

      Personally I’d probably like to see these first though.
      – Larger lense focal point (less blur)
      – Fewer God Rays

      I just find these two keep distracting me.

      Then
      – Higher FoV
      – Lower Weight
      – Higher Resolution (Reverb G2 is pretty good, but still need more 🙂
      – Wireless

      • Finally played a few hours of Alyx tonight – loving it.

        I’m a little torn on my FoV priority now.
        My first two points are still up there as huge distractions for me.
        And even though I know 150 FoV would be awesome for immersion; I can get over the tunnel vision more in the slower exploration areas, but when there are more enemies around and you come up to an intersection/doorway, then it really starts to make it feel restricted.

  • “Inside-out tracking … It’s definitely the way to go.”

    Currently I would say;
    From a usage point of view, nah.
    From a setup point of view, yeah.

    They need to make the Lighthouses wireless. 😀

    I still haven’t spent much time with my VR set, but I’ve found inside out to be rather frustrating at times, and for some games like The Lab’s bow game, to be tedious rather than fun because of the tracking. I have tried another bow game that was far more enjoyable, but even then it was still an issue that you had to play around.

    Part of it is the game design (1 bow game being playable, while the other is 75% frustration), but it’s still an issue that gets in the way.

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