Sony revealed the controller for the PlayStation 5, called DualSense, and a change to the positioning of the light bar suggests PSVR2 may use inside-out tracking.
The current PSVR uses the PlayStation Camera which was released alongside the PS4 console. This camera bar contains two 800p color image sensors which track the strips of light on the PSVR headset. If you’re using the PlayStation Move controllers it will also track those, but if you’re not it will instead track the DualShock 4 controller.
The PS4’s DualShock 4 controller features a bar of light on the back which can display various colors, set by game developers. This is how the PlayStation Camera tracks it. Because it’s on the back, it can be seen from the camera’s position, which is generally near the TV.
With the PlayStation 5’s new ‘DualSense’ controller, Sony appears to have moved this light bar to the face of the controller, with one strip on each side.
Given how a gamepad is normally held, the light bars on DualSense would not be visible to a camera placed beside the TV. They would, however, be visible to cameras on the VR headset itself. And if that’s the case, these cameras could also be used for inside-out tracking.
VR headsets from Facebook, Microsoft, and HTC all now use inside-out tracking, as did Google’s headset developed with Lenovo. To track the headset, this technology works by comparing the accelerometer data to the apparent motion of “landmark” features in your room, such as the edges of a table or the frame of a painting.
To track controllers, the cameras can follow the motion of strips (Vive Cosmos) or dots (Oculus, Windows MR) of visible or infrared lights relative to the user’s head.
It’s technically possible that Sony plans to drop support for gamepads in VR with PSVR2, instead launching new controllers using a new tracking system. But dropping gamepad support could have implications for backward compatibility going forward — a major selling point of the PS5. Sony previously said “the current PSVR headset is compatible” with the PS5. Will DualShock 4 also be compatible with PS5? We haven’t seen official confirmation of that yet, but PS5 compatibility with the PlayStation Camera and DualShock 4 seems like it would be necessary to live up to the promise of backwards compatibility with some PSVR games which rely on the ability to track the controller’s movement through space.
If instead PSVR2 uses inside-out tracking it could offer various benefits to players. Since there’s no fixed camera, the controllers could be tracked even when turned away from the TV — a feature all other VR platforms today support. Additionally, setup would be easier and fewer cables would be needed. It could also enable Sony to have a system like Facebook’s Guardian and Valve’s Chaperone.
Do you think PSVR2 will use inside-out tracking? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.