Hands-On With Sony’s New Spatial Content Creation System

By Anshel Sag, Patrick Moorhead - April 23, 2024

Sony announced its Spatial Content Creation System at CES 2024. At that time, very few people got an opportunity to try it out since demos of headsets are generally challenging, especially with lots of users around. After the event, however, I was able to find a time when Sony’s engineers from Japan would be in town—Sony has an office here in San Diego—to provide a demo. Little did I know I would be one of the first people to see the newer iteration of Sony’s head-mounted display that is part of its complete Spatial Content Creation System. Sony designed this headset for exclusive use with Siemens NX software, which makes it clear that this is an enterprise-focused platform.

Sony Spatial Content Creation System — Specs And Operating Environment

The Spatial Content Creation System is not just a headset. It is a complete set of controllers plus a new headset that utilizes Sony’s 4K x 2K per eye micro-OLED displays. The controllers are specifically designed for two-hand manipulation and are nothing like most of the XR controllers before them. They also have their own special dock for keeping them charged when not in use. This dock also serves as a base station for the controllers and the headset’s communications. As for the headset, Sony is quoting a pixel density of 55 pixels per degree with eye tracking. Besides that, this is the first headset to be demoed with Qualcomm’s new XR2+ Gen 2 SoC, which was also announced at CES 2024.

The author wearing the Sony Spatial Content Creation System headset
Anshel Sag

When I spoke to Sony about why it would implement such a powerful SoC for a headset that is likely to be connected to a workstation running Siemens NX, they said that the SoC was necessary to power the hand tracking and dual 4K displays while also providing seamless eye tracking. Another scenario that could potentially happen is that Siemens NX could run within an Nvidia Omniverse instance and stream directly to the headset without the use of a PC. While we don’t yet know the details of how that might work, during Nvidia’s GTC 2024 conference, Siemens and Nvidia showed off the Sony Spatial Content Creation System as a way to use Omniverse and Siemens NX together. (Nvidia also announced support for the Apple Vision Pro at GTC 2024 but didn’t have any working demos of it running Omniverse when I asked. You can read my writeup of Nvidia’s announcements at GTC 2024 here.)

Using The Spatial Content Creation System

The first thing I noticed about the Sony Spatial Content Creation System is that the newer design of the headset is a little more compact than the version that was demoed at CES 2024. It seems that Sony has dialed in the physical design, and it looks and feels very professional. The first iteration looked and felt more like the Sony PlayStation VR2 in terms of shape and ergonomics, but the newer version is more compact and feels more like its own product. The controllers themselves feel extremely well-polished and ready for prime time; they include a control ring and a finger pointer device that feels a lot like holding chopsticks. In the image below, you can see the controllers being used to manipulate a photorealistic virtual model of a Formula 1 steering wheel.

Sony Spatial Content Creation controllers
Sony

The headset’s weight was well-balanced on my head, and it was easy to pop up the display to be able to talk to someone face to face. That said, the device supports both VR and MR use cases and features different light blockers based on the level of immersion you want. While I didn’t get a chance to use eye tracking, I do think it is important for enabling high-resolution experiences and tracking user intent for training applications. While Siemens NX Immersive Designer is going to be the first application, I do believe that Sony will open this headset to more applications down the road.

I was able to experience the headset in both MR and VR and enjoyed the ability to mix the use of controllers with hand-tracking so that I could grab things with my hand and then manipulate them with the controller. This felt like a much more natural experience than using two controllers or using only my hands. To help me appreciate the resolution of the displays, Sony rendered very high-resolution models of different Sony products, including a Sony Alpha camera. The results are impressive; in fact, I would say it was one of the best-looking displays I’ve seen in a headset to date. This makes sense when you consider that Sony—one of the top display manufacturers in the world—is also the supplier for Apple’s Vision Pro headset that launched last month. (You can read my detailed review of the Apple Vision Pro here.)

Sony Spatial Content Creation controllers in their dock
Anshel Sag

Sony also demonstrated the headset operating in a standalone mode running high-resolution video files. That part of the demo really helped the headset shine. That said, I don’t see video being a big use case for this headset unless you are traveling and it becomes your default display device—kind of like the Vision Pro. That said, the headset does have its own internal battery mounted to the back of the headset to help counterbalance the weight of the displays and SoC with cooling system. One downside is that, even though it has eye tracking, the headset does not automatically detect interpupillary distance; I think that’s a mistake for a professional headset with so many other high-end specs.

My demo of the new Spatial Content Creation platform was in a controlled environment specially created for demoing the headset. That said, this platform was created for enterprise applications and is currently targeted to work with Siemens NX Immersive Creator. Unfortunately, I was not able to use the headset with Siemens NX. From everything I’ve seen and heard, however, I believe that Sony is focused on putting the software experience on par with the high standard that NX customers expect.

Wrapping Up

While Sony has not yet talked about pricing for the Spatial Content Creation System, this device is unlikely to be offered on its own. The expectation is that the headset will be available by the end of 2024, likely bundled with Siemens NX as a complete spatial computing solution and sold by Siemens, Sony and their respective integration partners.

The reality is that Siemens NX Immersive is a serious piece of enterprise software, so there will not be any half-baked solutions when the headset ships. I believe that’s why the company is taking its time with the software. Having said all that, the Spatial Content Creation System does give me hope that Apple Vision Pro is going to have some real competition in the enterprise space down the road, and that enterprises and their users will have more choices when it comes to mixed-reality solutions.

Anshel Sag
VP & Principal Analyst| Website| + posts

Anshel Sag is Moor Insights & Strategy’s in-house millennial with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. Anshel has had extensive experience working with consumers and enterprises while interfacing with both B2B and B2C relationships, gaining empathy and understanding of what users really want. Some of his earliest experience goes back as far as his childhood when he started PC gaming at the ripe of old age of 5 while building his first PC at 11 and learning his first programming languages at 13.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.