A closer look at Sony’s virtual reality intentions with the PlayStation 4

A closer look at Sony’s virtual reality intentions with the PlayStation 4

After the Oculus Rift paved the way for modern virtual reality headsets, the gold rush for VR devices began in earnest. Rumours of new Rift competitors have been popping up left and right, and now it seems that Sony is legitimately preparing to enter the VR fray. Thanks to a few choice quotes from the president of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), the Internet has lit up with speculation about the potential for a PS4-compatible VR headset.

Over at the EverQuest Next subreddit, SOE’s John Smedley recently participated in an open Q&A. While most of the questions dealt with the standard issues surrounding MMOs, the subject of Oculus Rift support caught Smedley’s attention. When asked if Rift support was planned for the upcoming PC title, Smedley explained that the team will “support Oculus Rift in some way, shape, or form.”

What about other VR solutions, though? Sony showed off its latest headset just a few weeks ago at CES, and Smedley seems to think that other VR headsets might be on the cards. While he was careful not to promise anything, he says that he is “hearing good things about 2 competitors… one of which actually comes from Sony.” It’s not quite the PS4 VR confirmation that enthusiasts were hoping for, but it’s quite titillating nonetheless.

Climbing virtual mountains

Meanwhile, VR implementations continue to evolve to offer new experiences in the world of gaming. The video above shows how an Oculus Rift, a Wiimote, and an omnidirectional treadmill can work together to make Skyrim even more immersive. Just like Virtuix’s Omni treadmill, this solution from Cyberith allows players to walk around virtual environments in a realistic manner. With impressive demos like this, it’s easy to see why Sony definitely wants in on this burgeoning market.

Medicinal use

VR isn’t all about immersive gameplay, though. With a combination of the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion, James Blaha is currently developing a game called Diplopia that’s aimed at helping cross-eyed people experience stereoscopic 3D. As affordable VR headsets proliferate for gaming, we’re bound to see many more attempts at therapeutic and scientific applications just like this.

If you’re sceptical, just take a look at the research we’ve seen done with the Kinect. From sign language interpretation through precog robots to depression diagnosis, this affordable off-the-shelf gadget has been an incredible tool in numerous fields of study. When VR headsets are available in every major department store across the country, we’ll definitely see a surge of alternative VR applications.

VR for the PS4?

While there haven’t been any announcements about a PS4-compatible VR helmet, we might be in for a big announcement next month at the Game Developers Conference. Last month, Sony’s Tony Clark tweeted that we’re in for “massive” PlayStation announcements at GDC, E3, and Gamescom. Just a few days ago, Sony’s Brian Silva said that the company is working on multiple projects that “developers and gamers will be excited about.” If the tea leaf reading across the Internet is to be believed, we might actually get our hands on a PS4-based virtual reality SDK sometime next month.

While you’re here, you might want to check out our discussion of this topic towards the end of last year: Sony’s next move in the PlayStation 4 versus Xbox One battle will be a virtual reality headset.

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