Virtual Reality

Sony details PSVR 2 prototypes from concept to production – Road to VR

Sony has released an overview of the prototyping stages that led to PSVR 2, showing off a number of test units for the headset and controllers.

In a lengthy interview on the PS Blog, PSVR 2 Product Manager Yasuo Takahashi reveals the development process behind Sony’s latest VR headset.

Takahashi reveals that detailed discussions about the company’s next-gen PSVR began in earnest after the original launched in 2016. From there, the team began prototyping various technologies for PSVR 2 from early 2017.

Below is a condensed version of the interview, including all photos provided. If you want to read the full article, Click here.

Design and optimization challenges

Maintaining a lightweight and compact design while implementing new features was a challenge, Takahashi says, requiring the teams to work closely together to produce detailed engineering estimates and optimize the design.

Prototype for testing upside down in trail cameras with evaluation board | Image courtesy of Sony

While comfort was an important focus during the development process, the initial prototype focused on evaluating functionality rather than weight.

All of that top volume is dedicated to upside-down camera evaluation boards that would eventually be reduced to a headset-embedded SoC.

Room-scale and eye-tracking technology

Various prototypes were created and tested prior to integration, including both inside-out and outside-in tracking methods. Of course, we know that inside-out tracking was ultimately the winner, but interestingly, the company was still considering an outside-in approach at one point, similar to the original PSVR.

Upside-Down Tracking Prototype | Image courtesy of Sonymore
first “outside-in” tracking prototype | Image courtesy of Sonymore
Second “outside-in” tracking prototype | Image courtesy of Sonymore

Eye-tracking technology has also been explored as a new UI feature alongside foveal rendering, which allows the developer to push the boundaries of the PS5’s VR rendering capabilities and deliver higher fidelity visuals in games.

Testing and optimizing eye tracking took time, taking into account different eye colors and adapting to players wearing glasses.

Eye Tracking Assessment Prototype 2 | Image courtesy of Sony

Comfort & Design

The development team evaluated comfort and portability, evaluating many configurations based on the helmet’s expected weight. The team put a lot of thought into materials and shape to give the helmet a lightweight feel while maintaining its strength.

A cool ‘skeleton’ prototype shows all the puzzle pieces together, also showing off the headset’s halo strap, which, like the original PSVR, keeps most of the weight on the user’s forehead. This one should definitely have a place on museum shelves (or maybe a fun mid-gen version?).

The ‘skeleton’ prototype | Image courtesy of Sony

Headset haptics has also been added as a new feature based on the idea of ​​using the DualShock 4 wireless controller’s rumble engine.

PSVR 2 Sense Controllers

The PSVR 2 Sense controllers were developed alongside the headset, beginning discussions in 2016 and prototyping in 2017.

Features like haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and touch sensing were early additions, though the team was still figuring out tracking. Notice the Move-style tracking sphere on the tip of an early prototype.

Prototyping 1 | Image courtesy of Sony

The final shape of the Sense controller was achieved through extensive prototyping and user testing to ensure a comfortable fit and optimized center of gravity.

Here you can see a number of IR tracking marker setups that would eventually settle on the current form of the production model.

Prototyping 2 | Image courtesy of Sonymore
Prototyping 3 | Image courtesy of Sonymore
Prototyping 4 | Image courtesy of Sonymore
Prototyping 5 | Image courtesy of Sonymore

While Sony is undoubtedly sitting on a lot more prototypes than that – they started prototyping when the original PSVR had only been in the wild for less than a year – it’s an interesting look at how Takahashi’s team finally settled on the current form and function of what will likely be the PS5’s only VR headset for years to come.

If you want to know more, check out full interview with Takahashi.

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