Sony Acquires Softkinetic Systems, Likely To Be Used In PlayStation VR


In a press release issued today, Sony announced that Belgian software house Softkinetic Systems is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of theirs.

According to the press release, Softkinetic possesses time-of-flight (ToF) range image sensor technology, which is a method for resolving the distance to an object.

ToF is a method for resolving the distance to an object. ToF distance measurement pixels, which are laid on top of the sensor in two dimensions, measure the flight time (delay) it takes for light to leave the light source, reflect off the object, and return to the image sensor.

Apparently, Sony will now focus on combining Softkinetic's tech with its own technologies to develop the "next generation of range image sensors, not only in the field of imaging but for broader applications as well".

In all likelihood, this will be used for the upcoming PlayStation VR device. In fact, Softkinetic announced during E3 2015 a partnership with Vrvana to create the first VR headset with an embedded time-of-flight camera.

SoftKinetic®, the world’s leading provider of 3D vision and gesture recognition solutions, together with virtual reality innovator Vrvana, today announced its DepthSense® 536 module will be embedded in the new Vrvana Totem VR headset, enabling positional tracking for virtual reality. Vrvana has created the first 3D immersive VR headset with high-resolution, dual on-board cameras. Vrvana chose SoftKinetic’s DS536 module, with its Time of Flight (ToF) sensor, to enable positional tracking and natural hand interaction in the smallest footprint available.

The Totem headset addresses positional tracking without the need for an external device, providing the most seamless user experience in a virtual reality environment. By tracking linear movement with an embedded camera rather than a cumbersome external device, Vrvana and SoftKinetic are also achieving a major step towards mobile VR.

“We created Totem with the express desire to improve the video gaming experience through a more seamless and realistic 3D VR experience,” said Bertrand Nepveu, CEO of Vrvana. “SoftKinetic’s sophisticated DepthSense module and sensor offered the perfect 3D capabilities to help bring our vision of immersive VR experiences to life.”

“The world of virtual reality is rapidly changing, and companies like Vrvana are anxious to bring to market the best technologies that provide consumers an unparalleled experience,” said Eric Krzeslo, CMO of SoftKinetic. “Our 3D vision technologies are uniquely suited to the AR and VR environments, enabling the most sophisticated technical advancements such as natural interaction and free-form positional tracking.”

It seems rather obvious that PlayStation VR too will be equipped with this technology. Stay tuned for our continued coverage of PlayStation VR and the other VR devices (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift) as their launch draws near.