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Why comfort was the PSVR's greatest challenge

Why comfort was the PSVR's greatest challenge

May 15, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

May 15, 2017 | By Chris Kerr
More: VR, Design

Richard Marks, the head of Sony's Magic Labs research and development wing, has been speaking to Glixel about the trials and tribulations that come with creating virtual reality tech. 

The veteran research fellow was talking specifically about the creation of Sony's PlayStation VR headset, which hit shelves last year and has since sold nearly 1 million units.

Winding back the clock to when the device was just a twinkle in Sony's eye, Marks revealed his team's first priority was creating a headset that was comfortable and user friendly. 

That's because his primary aim was to create a consumer headset, not a life-changing tech demo. A device people wouldn't mind wearing for hours at a time. After all, it doesn't matter how good your tech is if nobody can stand to use it. 

"One of the things that internally we focused on all along was, 'This has to be comfortable', and you have to be not thinking, 'This is horrible to put on my head.' So we really wanted it to be easy to put on your head and be comfortable," recalled Marks. 

"The tech is what we usually focus on at Magic Lab, but we realized to make it a product you have to solve those design issues, especially. Sony is a consumer electronics company, and just having a good tech demo is not the same as having a good product, and from the very beginning the mechanical engineers were figuring out how to make it fit people's heads."

Giving a more practical example, Marks explained how the optics in the PSVR have a deliberately wide eyebox, allowing it to deliver clear pictures even when the headset doesn't fit perfectly. It's a design choice that means the device should deliver the same quality user experience across the board. 

"One of the often overlooked aspects is that the optics we have in the PSVR headset have a really wide ‘eyebox' it's called, so you don't have to have it perfect and you still get a clear image, and it fits a large variety of eye sizes because the spacing between people's eyes varies a lot," he continues.

"So our eyebox covers a big range so that you don't have to have any adjustments. It just works for a huge portion of the population. And so that one little thing matters a lot, because it just means you put it on and it's kind of already right for everybody."

To hear more from Marks, be sure to check out the full interview over on Glixel.

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