Senior Vice President of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation R&D Dominic Mallison had a panel at Collision 2019 in Toronto.
At that event, Mallison talked about a successor to the insanely popular PS VR, which leads the premium VR market with over 4.2 million units sold. A higher resolution is something that he wants to target, roughly double the resolution on each axis. He stressed that Field of View is something that he wants to achieve, going from 100 FOV to 120 FOV for the next headset.
Next, HDR is something that will improve visual quality. Mallison said the follow:
And finally, HDR. In the TV industry, HDR is already incredibly important to creating the best experiences. The human eye sees an enormous range of light from bright sunlight to deep shadow. Today’s VR panels only capture a tiny fraction of that. So in order to increase the sense of presence, I do expect to see HDR adopted in the near future.”
Wireless is up next, the biggest feature I think people would want:
User comfort is incredibly important in order to widen the adoption of virtual reality. There are many aspects to user comfort. I’m just going to touch on one here. And that is the cable. Being tethered to this cable is inconvenient. And it’s not just about getting tangled up in the cable. It’s not just about the restriction in your motion. It’s also about how you set things up, how you configure the system, where you store it. Let’s face it, having a mess of cables in your living space is just not attractive. So this is something that we have to solve in order to get wider adoption.
Mallison suggested a duo of options; an all in one solution like Oculus Quest, then just a purely wireless unit that relies on PS5. It’s safe to assume the latter is what we’ll receive.
Next up is eye tracking or “gaze”, I guess you could say.
Gaze tracking — this is the technology that excites me the most. We’re already beginning to see this in some products on display at industry events. I think it has the greatest potential to change the VR user experience at a pretty fundamental level. I think it was Shakespeare who coined this phrase that ‘the eyes are a window to our souls’. I’ve been a little more prosaic by saying that ‘the eyes are a window to our thoughts’. I think everyone can intuitively understand just how rich human communication becomes when you have that eye contact. So what do I mean by gaze tracking? I mean the technology to understand where you’re looking in this virtual world. What is your attention point? And then on top of that, we can then layer extra things. We can understand perhaps your attention by measuring pupil dilation. We can do biometrics to understand who you are looking at. And we can measure your IPD (interpupillary distance) — the distance between your pupils. This is very important to VR because it allows us to accurately set up the optics and the rendering to give you maximum comfort, and to really get the correct sense of distance and scale in VR. So fundamentally, with this technology, we know what you’re looking at in VR. And this allows for countless user interface and user experience possibilities.
Foveated rendering, the ability to push more rendering for where your eyes see while the rest is… not necessarily blurred out but less “focused” is also a big feature. This allows the rendering load to be reduced so PS5 can increase visual quality and framerates.
More pixels needs more rendering performance. If you just brute force it, it requires a lot of extra rendering performance. The human eye has a part in the retina called the fovea, which is responsible for our super-sharp vision. We don’t see very much in the peripheral vision. So if we can match our rendering performance to the fovea, we can deliver higher effective resolutions, and also better quality images. So gaze tracking is a win-win in this respect.
Finally, Sony Interactive Entertainment has no plans for an AR device. They are strictly dealing with VR only.