PlayStation VR will let you play 360-degree videos (and yes, that means porn) soon
Above: One of the insane rigs you can use to make 360-degree videos.
Image Credit: GoPro
Sony knows that virtual reality isn’t only about games, and that’s why the company is preparing to update its own video player to support new kinds of formats for its head-mounted display.
PlayStation 4’s Media Player app will get a patch to version 2.50 “soon,” according to Sony. That upgrade will introduce support for 360-degree videos and photos for viewing inside the PlayStation VR headset. This means you can record your own immersive clips or download them from the internet for playback on the PS4. Of course, this means that the $500 PSVR headset, which launches tomorrow, will work with much of the VR porn that the adult-film industry is producing for headsets like the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard.
The market intelligence firm SuperData Research predicts that VR could generate as much as $40 billion in revenue by 2020, and PSVR could make up a significant portion of that. The headset has some issues that are bothering myself and other critics. Most notably, the system has tracking issues that can cause discomfort and nausea. At the same time, reviewers and other industry watchers agree Sony’s headset is good enough for most people, and getting support for 360-degree videos is right in line with that.
In addition to VR video, Sony is also bringing support for FLAC audio files to PS4. That is a lossless compression format that is replicates CD quality, and it is the go-to audio standard for audiophiles.
But while some people will love having this option so they can get perfect sound from their Yanni albums, it’s VR here that could have the biggest effect. Several Hollywood studios are already working in 360 degrees, and you can see what that’s like in this 360-degree experience for Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Disney’s experimental technology studio ILMxLab:
Unlike on a computer or smartphone screen, a headset like PSVR enables you to look around inside that Star Wars clip without having to drag with your mouse or finger. We still haven’t seen the full potential of this format, but Sony is now in a position to ensure that it can capitalize on whatever happens with this new film-making frontier.