With many of its rivals looking to cloud-based streaming as the basis for their next-generation consoles, it’s increasingly clear that Sony will make VR a key point of differentiation for its highly anticipated PlayStation 5. VR gaming is already possible with the PlayStation 4, and Sony appears to have used some of these learnings to develop workarounds for two of VR gaming’s biggest limitations.
The company first released its PlayStation VR headset in 2016 to bring new gaming experiences to the PS4. But there were also limitations to the experience: No matter how entranced you were by the virtual world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, for example, your game-play could still can ruined if you tripped over or got tangled in the wiring needed to connect the PSVR headset to the console. Users that need prescription glasses might also be unable to fully enjoy VR because they need to constantly re-adjust the headset to comfortably fit around their spectacles.
The release of the PS5 will likely surmount both of these user issues through the expected complementary release of an accompanying wireless PSVR headset. A new patent application has shed further light as to how the PSVR’s upgrades could come to fruition.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office published a Sony application patent on April 4 that lays out some other ideas for a future “head-mounted display” with wireless data transfer capabilities that could be the first glasses-friendly VR headset ever.
The April patent application specifically proposes a VR headset that comes with slightly more space between the goggles and the users’ face to allow prescription glasses to fit comfortably in the headset.
It also seems to describe a new graphical rendering technique known as “foveated rendering,” which could let consoles and computers generate massive digital worlds far more effectively. The method uses eye-trackers to detect where a user is looking. It then uses this information to fully render only what’s at the center of your vision, while decreasing the resolution of whatever is at your peripheral vision. This could improve the VR experience for all users by making it significantly less energy-intensive for consoles and computers to generate massive 3D worlds.
The patent also says that all of this data could be transferred wirelessly from the console to the headset. That lines up with the patent application published in March suggesting Sony was developing a VR headset with the capability to communicate with its consoles cordlessly.
Gaze tracking system of the glasses may be configured to transmit the signal representing the gaze tracking results to other computing devices (e.g., laptop computer, desktop computer, tablet computer, cellular phone device, etc.) instead of or in addition to the sensor of the HMD, using wireless communication.
No other console-headset combo makes use of foveated rendering, but the PS5 is expected to be like no other console. Sony is also expected to retrofit it with a VR-focused chipset making it a powerhouse for immersive gaming.
The PS5 might have the secret sauce it needs to finally help VR gaming enter the mainstream.