Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida was in bed when news broke regarding Facebook’s surprise acquisition of Oculus VR – the company behind the popular PC-based virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. However, his day didn’t get off to bad a start when he switched on his computer and saw the furore.
“I woke up that morning and saw the announcement,” he told Engadget, as part of a wider interview about the platform holder’s recently announced Project Morpheus peripheral. “And I was like, ‘Yeah!’” According to the publication, the affable executive made an air punching motion at this point in the discussion – a sign of his excitement.
It’s easy to assume that the Japanese giant may have been frustrated by the news, as it had become the defacto leader in the virtual reality space in the days preceding Facebook’s shock reveal. However, the legendary PlayStation employee explained that he’s more concerned about the success of the medium as a whole right now.
“We meant to validate Oculus by announcing Project Morpheus, and the Oculus guys knew what we were working on,” he said. “I think that they were waiting for us to make the announcement, so it would be Sony and Oculus together. But now Oculus being acquired by Facebook is helping to validate our efforts.”
Yoshida accurately pointed out that the acquisition – which hit major mainstream news outlets within minutes of the official press release being deployed – has made people more aware of virtual reality in general, and Project Morpheus stands to profit from that greater understanding. However, he reiterated that the medium still has hurdles to overcome.
“Virtual reality of the past, including our own prototype, has been very difficult to use in terms of getting headaches and becoming nauseated,” he continued. “Those early prototypes had larger latency and the positional tracking may not have worked as well. I feel really sorry for people developing virtual reality stuff – they have to test it!”
Interestingly, the platform holder’s been seeking support from medical professionals in order to overcome some of the issues that stem from using virtual reality. The executive added that it eventually wants to create guidelines for how old users should be and how long they should use it for, but it’s not quite there yet.
However, the straight talking suit believes that collaborating with developers will prove pivotal to solving any problems. “We need to share knowledge,” Yoshida concluded. “We can't just make the hardware; it's the game applications that need to be designed well. We need time for developers to experiment and find the killer application, and, at the same time, we need to learn how virtual reality apps should be designed.”
The long road ahead for the company begins with providing eager outfits such as Beatshapers development kits. As such, it’ll probably be some time before you’re wearing a headset of your own. Much like Oculus VR, though, the platform holder realises that for the space to be successful, it must get the experience right.