To start the year off right, Sony has decided to reveal the technical characteristics of its next virtual reality headset, the official name of which will be PlayStation VR2 (there was no real suspense on this point). The Japanese had given an overview of the controllers of the PSVR2 almost a year ago, but without expanding on the headset itself.
2000 x 2040 pixels per eye at 120 Hz
We now know that it will use an OLED screen with a resolution of 2000 x 2040 pixels per eye and a refresh rate alternating between 90 Hz and 120 Hz depending on the applications. The interpupillary gap will be adjustable and the field of view will be approximately 110° diagonally. The screen will handle HDR for better contrast.
In addition, no more complicated external cameras and connection. The headset will have four built-in tracking cameras and will connect to the PlayStation 5 using a single USB type-C cable.
Eye tracking and foveal rendering
Sony has also equipped the PSVR2 with infrared sensors and cameras in the helmet that will track the movement of the user’s eyes, which represents an additional method of interaction. The manufacturer also mentions the use of foveal rendering in order to take full advantage of the high resolution of the PSVR2 (for comparison, the Oculus Quest 2 has a resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, the Valve Index of 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye).
This technique, based on the physiology of the human eye, consists in degrading the image quality in those areas of the screen on which the user is not focused. This saves computing power without depleting the user experience.
Meta for example does fixed foveal rendering (the degraded areas do not change depending on the watched area) on its Oculus Quest. Sony does not give details on its implementation, but the use of cameras for eye tracking could mean that it will make dynamic foveal rendering, more complex to implement but which in theory allows significant gains.
Haptic feedback built into the headset, but no audio included
Another innovation: a vibration motor will be integrated into the helmet to provide haptic sensations. Sony gives as an example the fact of physically feeling the heart palpitations of a protagonist in a state of stress or the whistle of a bullet passing right next to his head.
A microphone will be integrated into the device, but surprising choice, you will have to provide your own headphones or headphones (to plug into a 3.5 mm jack connector). Since the PSVR2 takes advantage of Sony’s 3D audio technology (which is at the forefront in this field), we can expect that a dedicated sound device will be announced in the future in order to get the most out of it.
We also learn that the controllers are officially called “PlayStation VR2 Sense”, that they will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries rechargeable by a USB type-C port and that they will communicate with the headset by Bluetooth 5.1. They will have an actuator each for haptic feedback, and the triggers R2 and L2 will be increased by a dedicated effect.
A first game from the Horizon license
Finally, Sony has given a micro-preview of one of the titles in development for the PlayStation VR2: Horizon Call of the Mountain. Based on the Horizon franchise, it is developed by Guerrilla and Firesprite studios. Its release date has not been communicated, nor, for that matter, that of the headset. The other unknown to date is the price of the device, which will be one of the determining elements for its adoption.