How Playstation VR has Changed

Jesse Casman
J. Casman|12.21.16

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Jesse Casman
December 21st, 2016
How Playstation VR has Changed

TL;DR The new Playstation Media Player 2.51, just released on December 6, 2016, allows you to switch data on the fly and view RICOH THETA 360 images and videos easily within the Playstation VR goggles. The ease of use uploading your own 360 content is fantastic, and viewing them in Playstation VR goggles is a giant leap forward.

Intro to the RICOH THETA Unofficial Guide

I run the RICOH THETA Unofficial Guide, a free resource for RICOH THETA developers and power users that focuses on the camera's open API and making projects and products that are fun and innovative. It's a community-driven site that's been around for almost a year. The community covers topics like the API Guide, the Media Guide, Live Streaming and tons more.

We covered the recent Playstation VR announcement that supports showing RICOH THETA images and videos in the Sony goggles. We looked into it in detail, since how you display your images is as least as important as how you take them. There was lots of interest.

Last week, I had a chance to demo the full rig in front of 20 people. I know firsthand how easy and fun the Playstation VR goggles can be. If it works right when it's supposed to for a demo, then it really works.

VR is Becoming More Personal

The Unofficial Guide is all about DIY and hacking things together. For the community site, "good enough" is great. One example is A-Frame, an open source JavaScript library for building easy 360 content for VR goggles. What that entails is taking 360 pictures, building some simple Javascript code, and running it on a web server. It depends on a new technology called WebVR which provides support for virtual reality devices, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, in a web browser. In other words, WebVR will easily take your 360 images, split them and display them in VR goggles. All the hard work is done for you. You have just created your first navigable 360 environment, jumping from one image to the next, just using the goggles themselves to point and move.

Spending More, Getting More

But Google Cardboard really is "just good enough." For $15, you're up and running. And that's incredible, mind you. But if you want to show off your 360 pictures and videos, Google Cardboard has "just good enough" issues that will kill the experience for someone like your grandmother who's not interested in the tech, just interested in the memories. Latency, pixelization and more can be annoying. Worse, you can experience nausea. And Google Cardboard is not good if you wear glasses.

The Playstation VR setup is a completely different experience. The base part, Playstation 4, is a polished consumer product with millions of fans around the world. You pay extra to get the VR goggles.

Since I have been using a RICOH THETA S for the past year, I have tons of pictures and videos already in memory on my camera. With the Sony Playstation 2.51 Media Player, I can switch on the fly, uploading directly from a RICOH THETA over just one USB cable. Or, I can transfer my 360 images and videos onto a USB thumbdrive and view those. It's incredible.

To Spend or Not to Spend

Yes, viewing your 360 images and videos in Playstation VR costs hundreds of dollars more than a just good enough setup. But if you already own a Playstation 4, you're more than halfway there in covering costs.

You will be fully transported inside your vacation photos. You could be watching your 360 video unfold around you.

Man, oh man, viewing your RICOH THETA images and videos on the fly in Playstation VR is really worth considering if you've already got a Playstation 4.

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