Later this year, Sony is set to release a new mixed reality headset, an intriguing addition to the world of ‘spatial content creation’. Unveiled during their CES 2024 presentation, this latest innovation is specifically designed for creators and artists who work in virtual environments. Despite the initial 25 minutes of the presentation being somewhat uneventful, the announcement of this new XR head-mounted display, along with a unique set of controllers, certainly captured the audience’s attention.
The design of the headset, with its matte gray finish, is reminiscent of a simplified version of the PSVR2. It features two outward-facing cameras on the front, hinting at its advanced capabilities. Accompanying the headset are two distinct controllers: a wand-like device and a smaller one, akin to a ring. These are aimed at enhancing the user experience in 3D modeling and virtual space manipulation. Though Sony has yet to announce pricing details, they have confirmed the headset’s availability later in 2024.
Delving into the technical aspects, the headset is a standalone unit powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2, a chip announced at the beginning of CES. This means users won’t need an external computer to operate the device. It boasts dual 4K OLED microdisplays and offers both user and space tracking for a comprehensive mixed reality experience. Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony’s CEO, highlighted the headset’s promise of a sharp viewing experience and intuitive interaction for 3D design, placing it alongside Sony’s other professional-level tech products.
One of the headset’s standout features is its “video see-through” functionality, backed by six cameras and sensors. The controllers are particularly noteworthy: the “ring controller” is designed for object manipulation, while the “pointing controller” is, as the name suggests, for pointing and selection tasks. Sony envisions a workflow where creators can use both controllers in conjunction with a keyboard, all while immersed in the mixed reality environment provided by the headset.
The comfort and usability of the device have also been carefully considered. Sony has fine-tuned the balance of the headset, ensuring an even distribution of weight for prolonged use. Furthermore, the display can be flipped up, allowing users to quickly switch between their virtual workspace and the real world without needing to remove the headset.
During the presentation, Sony’s demonstration hinted at the headset’s potential applications. They showcased a user interacting with a 3D model of a bipedal robot, suggesting a focus on detailed and intricate design work. This positions the headset not so much as a direct competitor to Vision Pro, but rather as an innovative alternative to products like Microsoft’s HoloLens, tailored for creative professionals.
Sony also emphasizes the headset’s compatibility with third-party creative applications, enabling remote review and collaboration on projects. This feature could be a significant advantage for professionals in various fields, from design to engineering.