Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida attended IFA in Berlin where he discussed various aspects surrounding the PlayStation platform, including the virtual reality segment which, he believes, still has room to grow. Describing it as a “completely unique experience” that is still rising in popularity, Yoshida discussed some of the areas where VR is still lacking from a technical standpoint. One of the persisting problems is that users are being virtually blindfolded without any options for seeing the outside world through the HMD, which can lead to confusion and could be “a little bit dangerous.” Having said that, Mr. Yoshida claims that VR is still in its very early days and its evolution is likely to lead to mixed reality solutions becoming mainstream.
Of course, some VR HMDs like the HTC Vive already offer a way to view the real world through the VR goggles with the help of embedded cameras, but the discussion seemed to be more focused on the Sony PlayStation VR solution rather than the competition. The CEO also added that one of the biggest challenges faced at present by developers of virtual reality titles is negating VR motion sickness, adding that there’s room for improvement and VR users should eventually see positive changes in this area as the technology moves forward and developers become more confident. Realistically, one of the causes for VR motion sickness is the discrepancy between what the user’s eyes perceive and what their bodies feel, in some cases leading to the human brain causing symptoms similar to car sickness. In general, better tactile feedback from controllers or other accessories, improved display resolutions and properly optimized fields of view can all contribute to a more pleasant, natural VR experience but it also comes down to how the end users react to this technology, and how quickly they can unconsciously trick their brain into the virtual world to avoid confusion and motion sickness.
In closing, Sony’s CEO didn’t reveal any timelines or concrete bits of details about the company’s VR platform for the near or distant future, or whether there will ever be a PSVR2 model for the next-generation PlayStation 5. However, the discussion suggests that Sony is still working on improving the technology, and the natural evolution of VR could lead to the adoption of augmented reality solutions in the future. Meanwhile, as the PS VR closes its two-year anniversary with more than three million units sold since October 2016, Sony launched a couple of new PlayStation VR bundles earlier this week, the more complete of which costs $350 and includes the PSVR helmet, two PlayStation Move controllers, a PS Camera, a Demo Disc 2.0 and two full VR games. The second bundle priced at $300 features one full VR title and includes much of the same hardware except for the Move controllers.