Project Morpheus is now PlayStation VR. Here's what you need to know about Sony's renamed VR headset

Project Morpheus for PS4 is like Oculus Rift
Sony goes all Neo with its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset

Sony took motion controlled gaming to the next level when it unveiled a slick-looking Oculus Rift competitor, dubbed Project Morpheus, at its virtual reality-focused GDC 2014 press conference.

As of September 14 2015, Morpheus is now known by the more prosaic but also more self-explanatory name of PlayStation VR. But the fundamentals remain the same, with the long-awaited VR headset for PS4 boasting design straight out of Tron: Legacy and a growing collection of impressive games, as we detailed in this hands on review.

More than its futuristic-looking black-and-white color scheme that glows hues of blue, it's what is on the inside that counts: a whole new way to experience games and other video content.

Sony is reaching out to developers, hence the virtual reality headset's presence at GDC, with the hope that its forever-unimpressive PlayStation Move efforts can be coupled with its new Oculus Rift rival.

How Project Morpheus' virtual reality works

Donning the Project Morpheus prototype means literally getting behind a 1080p head-mounted display with a 5-inch LCD panel, 960xRGBx1080 resolution per eye and 90-degree field of view to look around.

This compares to the Kickstarter-funded Oculus Rift that boasts a field of view of approximately 110 degrees diagonally. It's a slightly superior figure that's head-turning in more ways than one.

Project Morpheus

Prototype of a prototype

Built-in motion sensors like an accelerometer and gyroscope are tucked into the headset, enabling the virtual world's image to rotate in real time with the wearer's head movement.

Further head tracking happens on a third axis when coupled with the all-of-a-sudden useful PlayStation Camera. It looks for Project Morpheus 1,000 times every second and enables full 360 movement without losing track of the headset.

Its sensors don't do all of the work. Movement in games can still be handled with the DualShock 4 controller or PlayStation Move, both of which are compatible with the headset prototype.

There's an HDMI output and USB port, which gives wearers the ability to mirror what they're seeing to a TV screen and opens the door to multiplayer with people who don't have a headset of their own.

A 5 meter cable does tether this device, but Sony expressed interest in making the headset wireless one day. This is still a prototype, after all.

Works with glasses, has stereoscopic sound

Most importantly among Project Morpheus specs for some people is that it'll be compatible with glasses. You won't have to endure for a year-long wait for a solution like Google Glass users did.

Emphasizing that sound is just as important to VR immersion, Sony pointed to new 3D audio technology it has developed for Project Morpheus. Stereoscopic sounds occur in all directions and changes in real time depending on head orientation.

Project Morpheus game demos

As incredible as virtual reality technology sounds and may even perform at GDC 2014, we're not going to see a Project Morpheus consumer version until adequate content is created.

Sony tapped its internal studios to illustrate an immersive game experience via a God of War 2 stage demo in which players slashed through enemies through the eyes of Kratos.

Project Morpheus

Used in conjunction with Project Morpheus

Seeing through the eyes of your favorite video game character dates back to Wolfenstein, but strapping a 1080p screen while in the first-person perspective should make this experience a little much more up-close-and-personal.

That's the same takeaway that other internal studios intend to mimic. Sony London Studio submerges players in a shark-proof cage in "The Deep," while it goes all medieval in the "The Castle" tech demo.

Games that previously existed are taking advantage of this virtual reality technology too. The recently released Thief from Square Enix applies its slower pacing to Project Morpheus and EVE Valkyrie from CCP Games is a natural fit even though it was previously announced to be an Oculus Rift exclusive.

Matt Swider