About one year ago Sony revealed the prototype for Project Morpheus, a virtual reality system designed for the PS4. We haven't heard much about the product until recently at the GDC conference where Sony talked in detail about the VR headset.
This information drop comes just after the recent announcement of HTC's VR headset that will be used for Steam. Project Morpheus will surely give the HTC headset and the Oculus Rift a run for their money.
Since the initial announcement Sony has released the key changes to specs of Project Morpheus, and I'm pretty excited about it!
OLED display: In exchange for the 5 inch LCD, the new Morpheus VR headset is equipped with a 5.7 inch 1920 X RGB X 1080 resolution OLED display. This new screen expands the field of view and enables low persistence, removing motion blur.
120hz refresh rate: The previous refresh rate spec has been doubled for this new prototype, which means games for Morpheus can be rendered at 120fps. When combined with the OLED display’s high refresh rate and the power of PS4, Morpheus is able to output amazingly smooth visuals.
Super low latency: Sony knows how critical low latency is to delivering a great VR experience, and they have reduced latency to less than 18ms, about half of what the first Morpheus prototype had. Low latency is critical to deliver a sense of presence, at the same time making the VR experience comfortable to players.
More accurate tracking: To make positional tracking more precise, Sony added three LEDs to the headset – one on the front and two on the side – for a total of nine LEDs to support robust 360 degree tracking.
User-friendly design: Sony made the Morpheus VR headset easier to put on and take off, with a single band design and quick release button. The headband supports the weight of the unit on the top of your head, so there is no pressure on your face. Other components have also been adjusted and configured to make the headset lighter, so that players do not find the headset cumbersome or uncomfortable to use.
I think the most interesting change is that games will be running at 120hz refresh rate. Although many games are 30fps and many others are 60fps, this headset will require games to run at 120hz.
Now refresh rate does not equal frames per second. Refresh rate refers to how quickly the display will refresh every second, i.e. 120 times. Now, although not all games (especially pretty games) will ever be able to reach 120fps, they can be optimized to meet 120fps to utilize the 120hz refresh rate. Project Morpheus comes with hardware that will interpolate the game in order to artificially make a 60fps game into 120fps.
The reason why Sony is so worried about making 120hz refresh rate the standard (with 60 as the minimum) is that anything lower than that will cause serious motion sickness within 10 to 20 minutes of use. Games that are not optimized to run with higher refresh rates will be entirely unplayable through VR.
Of course, because games need to be split into to screens and bumped up to 120fps, many of the games that Project Morpheus supports will NOT be as beautiful as their normally displayed AAA title counterparts. Not to worry though, I think this is a great step for Sony and hopefully they 'future proofed' this accessory in order to work with the next console that will no doubt be more powerful!