Sony’s new virtual reality gaming platform, PlayStation VR, is released next year and has very recently been demonstrated by Doctor Richard Marks from Sony Computer Entertainment. Unfortunately, the demonstration did not go to plan as owing to a software glitch, Doctor Marks’ hands were not present in the jousting competition. This is not the first technical error during a live event with a large crowd watching and a new, emerging technology on display. And if something will go wrong, it will be on a large stage with an expectant crowd watching, despite the best efforts of the software engineers. Sony’s stage had three screens present, one for each player in the game and a third set up as a spectator view. However, whilst virtual reality is undoubtedly a cool technology, it is seen by many as an emerging technology. The headsets and associated gear must be put on (or players must be suited up) and this takes time. Plus an important side effect is that players look decidedly strange covered in technology. This is something that none of the current (re)emerging virtual reality businesses have yet to successfully challenge, because whilst the technology is getting smaller it still looks like something from a science fiction movie than a technology that could easily be adopted by people.
Part of the problem is that virtual reality systems need to be experienced in order to be appreciated. The other part of the problem is that people may not want to spend several hundred dollars onto an emerging, “early generation” technology that they have yet to experience and looking like a Borg drone from the Star Trek universe does not always inspire confidence. Yes; virtual reality has been around for at least thirty years but the technology has only recently become portable enough to fit into a still over-sized headset and gloves. The current players in the consumer-space virtual reality universe are Sony, the HTC / Valve combination, and Oculus; none of these manufacturers have yet to overcome this flaw with the technology.
Things re improving. We’ve seen how the technology is being increasingly miniaturized as technology becomes more powerful and battery efficient. Smartphones are adopting super high resolution displays, which although overkill for handheld use, come into their own when the device is a couple of inches from our eyes. We are still a long way to go when it comes to battery life and heat output, but things are progressing quickly. Meanwhile, you can watch the demonstration unfolding in the embedded YouTube clip below.