PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi has no time for the metaverse or VR

Ken Kutaragi described head-mounted displays as the portal to the metaverse, but he claimed they divided the real and virtual worlds, not unifying them. I don’t see the point of the metaverse if it’s about making things quasi-real in the virtual world,” said the 71-year-old entrepreneur to Bloomberg News. “Would you rather be an avatar than your true self?” he asked. That’s essentially no different from anonymous messageboard sites.

He founded Sony Group Corp.’s video game business in 1993, and now leads Ascent Robotics Inc., a Tokyo-based company that raised 8.7 million yen ($1 billion) from Sony and SBI Holdings Inc. Kutaragi’s goal for Ascent is to blend the real world with cyberspace in a seamless, gadget-free fashion akin to holograms in Star Wars. The companies are racing to develop virtual-reality headsets amid their expectation that this will be a big metaverse bonanza. But Kutaragi isn’t convinced. “Headsets would isolate you from reality, and I don’t agree with that,” he added. “Headsets are simply annoying.”

Not a meaningful breakthrough

In the future, Ascent will use this technology to turn real-world objects into computer-readable data. We want to create smarter, more versatile robots that can do more than one job at a time. Gear from Ascent helps retailers and logistics companies automate simple tasks, freeing up labor hours. Using the new funding, Kutaragi will be able to develop an internal robotics platform that combines sensors, machines, and software. The PlayStation pioneer believes that using off-the-shelf hardware won’t lead to a meaningful breakthrough. So he will revisit the route he took in designing the original Sony video game console from scratch.

“Current robots do not have software and sensors that can match humans in understanding the real world and reacting to things they see for the first time, and our short-term goal is to offer a solution to that,” he said. “Because you want robots to be able to create a variety of things, not just countless units of the same thing”.

Aim that Kutaragi wants to achieve

Kutaragi aims to create digital replicas of real-world scenes by utilizing the visual data gathered by Ascent’s robots and sensors. Hologram representations of products provide a new shopping experience for e-commerce, which is still based on decades-old web technologies. People could use the technology to recreate a distant meeting place in the real world, allowing them to socialize without cumbersome headgear. The company makes no consumer products at present, and its long-term plans are under wraps. As he did when creating PlayStation, Kutaragi will share more of his vision publicly and form an open collaboration team. “I don’t plan to spend a decade or two on making my dreams a reality. I’m 71 and time is short,” he said.

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