Two new virtual reality headsets are on their way from HTC and Sony, with HTC's Vive device slated to arrive by the end of 2015 for consumers and Sony's beta Project Morpheus edition for PlayStation 4 set to bow in the first half of 2016.
The HTC headset was announced earlier this week at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona and the Sony device was unveiled at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
HTC plans to release a Developers Edition of its Vive virtual reality (VR) headset this spring, and plans to follow it up with a consumer version by the end of 2015, according to the company. The HTC Vive is being designed and built through a partnership with entertainment software company, Valve. The device aims to bring together Valve's Steam VR tracking and input technologies with HTC's design and engineering efforts to build a VR device that they hope will take off in the consumer market.
"It's rare that a company has an opportunity to forever transform the ways in which people interact with the world and communicate with each other but that is exactly what we plan to do with Valve," Cher Wang, the chairwoman of HTC, said in a statement.
Vive will offer an immersive VR experience for users, "plunging people into other worlds at a moment's notice," according to HTC. Included will be a full room scale 360-degree experience that uses tracked controllers to allow users to "get up, walk around and explore your virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with your surroundings," said HTC.
The Vive system will include high performance features, including quality graphics, 90 frames per second video and wide-ranging audio fidelity, according to HTC. Also slated for inclusion are new wireless VR controllers that will help users become more a part of their virtual environments.
"We achieved this once before with our development of smartphone technology," Peter Chou, the CEO of HTC, said in a statement. "And, through our partnership with Valve, we'll now be doing this for a second time with VR technology of which consumers could only previously dream."
The HTC system will also have tie-ins with content creators such as HBO, Lionsgate, the National Palace Museum in Taiwan and gaming companies including Cloudhead Games, Dovetail Games and Fireproof Games to help users become more involved in their gaming and entertainment experiences.
Through Vive, users will be able to virtually stand on the bridge of a starship rocketing across the galaxy, walk through the streets of ancient Rome, or shrink down to subatomic size and watch molecules collide within their next gaming experiences, according to HTC.
The Vive headset will include a 1,200 by 1,080 pixel screen in front of each of the user's eyes, a headphone jack to bring quality sound to the experience, and a gyro sensor, accelerometer, and laser positioning sensor to precisely track the rotation of the user's head as they wear the device for their gaming experiences. Also included are ergonomic VR game controllers for each hand to help users manipulate virtual objects and interact with the virtual world.
The Sony Project Morpheus beta edition device is the latest version of that company's exploration of VR with its PlayStation 4 systems, according to the company. The latest prototype comes a year after the first version was unveiled in March 2014.
The Morpheus system "enables players to experience a sense of presence, where they feel as though they are physically inside the virtual world of a game," according to Sony. The new version includes updates that were inspired by feedback from early beta users, such as the inclusion of a new 5.7-inch 1920 x RGB x 1080 resolution OLED display, which replaces the original 5-inch LCD in the first version. The new screen expands the field of view and removes motion blur and flicker, which helps build immersion and delivers a deeper sense of presence for players, according to Sony. Also new is 120 fps output for smoother visuals and more accurate position tracking, reduced latency for better performance and an improved design with a single band and a quick release button to make the headset easier for players to put on and take off.
A consumer version of the Morpheus headset is expected to arrive in the first half of 2016.
"With the technical specs achieved on the new prototype, we are one step closer to realizing our vision for making amazing VR experiences on PS4, and ultimately to deliver a real sense of presence to players," Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, said in a statement. "We believe that the near-final technology of Morpheus combined with the power of PS4 will provide a standard for game developers to target as they build on their creative ideas and turn them into VR games and experiences."