Playstation inventor finds VR glasses “just annoying”

Playstation inventor finds VR glasses “just annoying”

By no means everyone is enthusiastic about the idea of a Metaverse. The “father of Playstation” Ken Kutaragi is one of them.

The Japanese engineer and businessman founded Sony’s gaming division in 1993 and was instrumental in developing the first Playstation console, which launched first in Japan in 1994 and then in the West a year later. Kutaragi later became CEO of the video game business and led the development of console successors and the Playstation Portable. In 2007, Kutaragi left the company, long before Playstation VR.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Kutaragi reveals himself to be a Metaverse skeptic. The reason: The Metaverse and VR glasses would rather separate the realms of the real and the virtual than bring them together.

“Being in the real world is very important, but the Metaverse is about making the virtual world quasi-real, and I don’t see the point,” the 71-year-old Kutaragi said. “You’d rather be a polished avatar than your real self? That’s hardly different from anonymous forum sites.”

Robots that understand the world

Technology should merge the real and virtual, not separate them, Kutaragi says, and sees VR goggles as the crux of the problem. “Headsets isolate you from the real world, and I can’t advocate that. They’re just annoying.”

Kutaragi sees his new startup, Ascent, as a contrast to the Metaverse. The goal, he says, is to seamlessly connect the real world with cyberspace – without bulky face computers.

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Ascent specializes in artificial intelligence and aims to develop software and sensors for a robotics platform that can recognize and better classify the world. Robots should thus become more intelligent and versatile and be able to take on various tasks.

This sounds suspiciously like two key augmented reality technologies: AI-powered object recognition and semantic segmentation.

Where the digital and real converge

The startup just closed an $8.7 million funding round. The investors are SBI Holding and Kutaragi’s former employer, Sony. The latter sees things differently and is betting on virtual reality again this year.

In Sony’s long-term VR plans, however, Playstation VR 2 is likely to be just an intermediate step toward a computing platform that is not limited to gaming and combines the digital with the real via mixed reality. This is where Sony and Kutaragi’s paths could cross again.

Read more about Mixed Reality:

Sources: Bloomberg