The world of VR and AR innovation looks to be in full swing with some exciting new headsets on the way, and it looks like Sony could be adding another device to their arsenal alongside the PSVR 2 with their unveiling of a new prototype VR headset.
Here's what we know about it, and why it could mean VR is in for an even more exciting future than first thought.
What Is Sony's New Prototype VR Headset?
Sony recently held their 'Sony Technology Day' in which they unveiled some exciting new prototype innovations that they may or may not turn into real products at some point in the future.
Arguably the headline innovation was an 8K VR headset that utilises two 4K panels. 8K VR headsets have been done before, but this Sony prototype offers the power of 4K displays on much smaller panels with a low-latency connection.
As a result, this headset could be lighter and less bulky, making for a more comfortable VR experience overall. This in turn could open up the experience of virtual reality to more people without them suffering motion sickness or other issues if Sony does bring the headset to market.
What Could Sony's Prototype VR Headset Be Used For?
As for its use case, the demo footage of the headset suggested its principal application would be gaming. However, as this is a prototype, it would be wrong to take this headset as being an early sketch for what the PSVR 2 headset will come out looking like.
Kei Kimura of Sony's R&D Centre suggested that their aim is to "create an astonishing sense of immersion for remote collaboration and sharing", which portrays this headset as possibly being a powerful device for enterprise and business use, like the Microsoft HoloLens 2.
Fundamentally the focus here is on the 4K OLED displays inside the headset and their use cases, and given that low latency, Sony hopes it can be applied to a multitude of scenarios, including but not limited to gaming, music and medical training, too, amongst other applications.
Opinion: A Whole New World For VR To Explore
Sony's prototype VR headset, going by its initial impressions, does look to be a major step in the right direction for VR. If the screens inside headsets can be made sharper with an increasing number of dots in OLED microdisplays, then the overall experience could also be more detailed.
After all, this current console generation of the Xbox Series X and PS5 have all been about taking things to the next level, especially with their support for some marvellous HDMI 2.1 monitors, which can output a 4K signal at 120Hz for super smooth and sharp gameplay.
Increasing detail in VR could pave the way for future innovations and a shift to making the overall experience increasingly realistic. For the purposes Sony has touted for this new headset like medical training, having a realistic experience will be of paramount importance.
In addition, having this as a low-latency headset will allow for a potentially life-like experience and also help to minimise any motion sickness effects, which in turn should allow the headset to be used by more people and could, in the long run, help to make VR more of a habitual exercise.
These two specific innovations are going to be vital if the metaverse is to take shape, as whilst it may look to currently be a place for social media, it is perhaps the current end goal for technological development. Having a virtual space where people can interact in a realistic manner with little to no communication delay would be ideal, as long as it is executed correctly.
That correct execution is of course based on the marriage between software and hardware, and it looks as though one side of that is beginning to take shape. The software used will also need to feature a detailed world and be quick to load for the best experience possible.
Of course, it appears that VR is the key to unlocking the metaverse and making sure the hardware is right in the first instance is a top priority, as demonstrated by Sony's strivings, alongside other potential headset releases like the Meta Quest 3 and Project Cambria.
The form that the metaverse will take is obviously still up in the air, but it's assumed that the platform will be a do-it-all place for users to interact with people as a form of social media, alongside potentially also having the ability to house a virtual workplace.
The notion of a virtual workplace is one that Microsoft and Accenture explored with the Nth Floor development in 2019 that has gained prominence since then. It acts as possible proof of what is to come, and given Sony's comments about remote collaboration being made easier with their low-latency headset, then it looks like virtual working may well be pretty possible in the future.
Of course, it is worth noting this is only a prototype headset at the moment and a lot of the above is simple speculation about what might happen, but these early sketches from Sony do at least suggest we're heading in the right direction.