A patent filed by Sony suggests that PS VR2 could use a combination of machine learning and eye tracking to guess where the player will look first.
Much is already known about Playstation VR2, such as its design, along with descriptions of system specifications and new features. However, a release date for the system remains elusive. Although many expected the VR system to launch in late 2022, rumors now suggest that the PlayStation VR2 launch will fall in 2023. This was originally assumed to be due to a supply line delay, but new patents filed by Sony suggest that it is still adding to the system software.
Sony has already announced that PS VR2 will have eye tracking that follows the player’s line of sight and should alter the focus of the game world accordingly. Known as foveated rendering, this should not only improve player immersion, but also reduce the processing strain on the system by not requiring the entire scene to stay in focus.
A new patent filed by Sony now suggests that this eye-tracking feature in PlayStation VR2 could power a machine learning system that’s programmed to determine where in a scene a player is most likely to look first. The system would then dedicate processing power to rendering that area first. If this works, it should render large scenes in such a way that the player wearing the VR headset doesn’t even notice, as they will have naturally looked into the area that was rendered first.
It is still unknown if this Sony patent will be used in the development of the games or simply as a trick to disguise the render times of the player. However, depending on the game, it could be used as a subtle way of guiding the player through a level using the focus of their own eyes. This could be especially useful in a fast-paced section of a game, such as a chase sequence.
Developers of more immersive single player games often use different audio or visual cues in the environment to guide players through the game world. One of the most common tricks from developers is to make the player naturally follow light sources, such as streetlights, or make interactive objects a different color. Some games are so good at this that the player may not even be aware that the game is taking them in a particular direction. Virtual reality already offers arguably the most immersive gaming experiences, and a system like eye-tracking for PS VR2 could replace these tricks by guiding players by only pointing them in certain directions, even if the player isn’t looking at them. This would make the correct path always stand out in the player’s peripheral vision.
Using the patent in this way could suggest a real breakthrough in the technical capabilities of the games coming to PlayStation VR2. VR is often heralded by many as the future of gaming, and 2021 saw plenty of VR video game releases. As PlayStation currently lacks its main home console rival, Xbox, in the VR space, PS VR2 could be an excellent opportunity for Sony when it launches.
Playstation VR2 is currently under development.
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