By Charles Borsos
BU News Service
I was behind the wheel of a $400,000 McLaren 650S GT3, doing about 130 mph when I hit a hairpin turn. I’ll be honest—I wasn’t paying attention. I was just sort of looking around at the interior of the car and when I looked up, I was going just as fast but also spinning like a top in the dirt.
I didn’t crash per se, but even the ever-so minor damages I caused to the paint, front and rear bumpers, door and hood could have bankrupted me. Fortunately, the steering wheel in my hands wasn’t connected to a real car. The McLaren I was sitting in was part of Sony’s demo of their PlayStation virtual reality headset at CES 2017.
The PlayStation VR was released in October this year and what was new at Sony’s CES booth was the demo of the Gran Turismo Sport racing game. An exclusive title to the PlayStation 4, GT Sport is the first of the series to support virtual reality. After some delays, it is set to be released sometime this year.
The demo at CES included a racing seat, pedals, and a steering wheel to give tactile feedback and aid the headset’s visuals. After sitting down, I was handed the headset and slipped it onto my head. The screens could be adjusted to accommodate your vision, but I actually couldn’t get the headset to focus properly.
It couldn’t be adjusted to get the screens close enough to my eyes. If I physically pressed the front of the headset, the image became much clearer, but this wasn’t a practical solution. I don’t believe that there is anything special about my eyesight. In fact, at a recent optometrist check up I was told I have very good eyesight. I’m not sure if there was some other setting that could be changed to sharpen things up, but I decided to press on and get driving.
The demo allowed you to take a couple laps around a racetrack. The first lap was pretty rough. The steering wheel would shake and turn and it took a little while to get used to that feedback. During the second lap I got the hang of things, but as I started to drive a little faster, I got a a bit dizzy. When I looked left and right, I got the strange sensation that the chair was floating away from me and I went back to looking dead ahead through the virtual windshield.
I didn’t really realize how dizzy I had become until the demo was over and I stood up. I had heard about people feeling sick using VR, but I never thought it would happen to me. I never get motion sickness!
Using the PlayStation VR was my first real experience with VR. I had a good time driving around, but there were some issues. I can’t make a judgment just yet, but I hope to get the opportunity to give it another shot soon.