The war for virtual gets real – Sony and Microsoft developing VR headsets

19 Mar 20143 Shares

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Pictured: Sony's 'Project Morpheus virtual reality headset

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Despite Oculus Rift and Valve stealing a march on them, games console giants Sony and Microsoft are hard at work on creating their own virtual reality headsets that could transform gaming forever.

In the cut throat battle between the Microsoft Xbox One platform and the Sony PlayStation 4 platform, neither games giant wishes to miss out on what could be the next game-changer (pardon pun), and have now revealed their respective hands.

Sony yesterday revealed Project Morpheus at the Game Developers Conference 2014 during an event called ‘Driving the Future of Innovation’. The new system will work on PlayStation 4 and has been described as the culmination of three years work to “push the boundaries of play.”

The Project Morpheus headset uses a 1080p LCD screen and offers a 90-degree field of view. It integrates with the PlayStation Camera as well as the PlayStation Move. Currently connected to the console using a five meter cable, Sony plans to make it wireless.

“I have long dreamed about VR and the possibilities it brings in regards to game development,” said the president of SCE Worldwide Studios Shu Yoshida.

“This new technology will deliver a sense of presence, where you as the player actually feel like you’re inside the game and your emotions feel that much more real.”

Not to be outdone Microsoft too is working on a virtual reality headset and is making use of various augmented reality devices to ensure it isn’t left out of the virtual reality picture.

The company filed a patent application for a “multiplayer gaming headset” back in 2012.

All to play for

Oculus

The Oculus Rift headset which was the darling of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show

Gaming platform Valve has also revealed its own VR headset and has released a beta version of the software, Steam VR, to be used with the headset.

Oculus VR, the company behind Oculus Rift, has been wowing media and consumers over the past year with its immersive virtual reality world headset and has raised US$2.5m on Kickstarter as well as up to US$80m in venture.

However, the question has always been whether it would have the clout and the reach to make it into a mass market phenomenon in a way that only Microsoft and Sony can.

Perhaps in this game players like Valve and Oculus hold the real cards and could provide systems that could work across both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 device platforms.

However, with Sony clearly ahead on making its own hardware, the window of opportunity tightening. Who knows, perhaps Oculus VR or Valve would make juicy acquisition targets for Microsoft?

Your move, Microsoft. It’s all to play for.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com