---sony patents shape-shifting, emotion-sensing game tech
by brendan sinclair, gamespot
posted aug 17, 2009 1:14 pm pt
scea applications would cover new controllers, empathetic technology, and vibration add-ons.
Sony computer entertainment america wants to change the way people play games, and that's not just marketing speak. The playstation 3 maker has filed patent applications for a number of improvements and substitutions to the standard controller interface in recent years, going beyond the motion-sensing control setup revealed at e3.
The first controller designed for throwing?
One of the interfaces for which the company wants a patent is a "man-machine interface using a deformable device." the proposed system would allow gamers to use a squeezable object like a rubber ball as a substitute for a mouse. A camera hooked up to a game console would follow the ball's movements, and players could squeeze and move the ball as substitutes for a mouse click or click and drag.
The ball itself would not include any significant technology, although an internal clicking mechanism could provide tactile feedback to tell the user when a squeeze is sufficient for the system to pick up on it. While scea describes the technology in terms of games in its application, it does point out it could also be used to control tvs, dvd players, and even smart appliances.
Scea is also seeking a patent for a completely controller-less technology, according to tech blog siliconera. The site is reporting on a patent application from scea that would use a camera and microphone to assess noises, movements, and facial expressions made by users to determine their states of mind. For example, the technology would allow games to identify what makes a player laugh or become bored and then use that data perhaps to change the gameplay experience or simply garner more thorough feedback from users.
Apparently, sony thinks force feedback is the future of games past.
Finally, scea applied for a patent on a new force feedback device. Although it is described with a variety of uses, the add-on as described by the application would be used primarily to add haptic feedback (like rumble) to emulated software from older systems or to enhance it in more modern games.
Depicted as a plug-in to a playstation 3 controller, the add-on could include a microphone or camera and trigger rumble activity based on audio cues (tone, volume, duration of sounds) or video characteristics (color, brightness, saturation). It is unclear if sony intended this for the dualshock, as well as the rumble-less sixaxis.
"for example, a device… may use criteria to recognize a sound generated by a video game that is indicative of the 'clop-clop' of a horse's hooves," the application states. "whenever a video game plays such audio, the device… recognizes the audio and inserts corresponding haptics, such as, for example, a rumble in concert with each 'clop.'"
sony's system could add rumble to games that never had it or replace it with video effects in those that did.
The device could also be used with games that already have rumble functionality. For instance, it could intercept a signal to rumble the controller and instead have the system shake the video screen, temporarily change the hue of the picture, or increase the audio signal to a user's subwoofer. Users would be able to set their preferences as to how the add-on would redirect or enhance the existing rumble functionality of older games.
Given that the add-on would be a way to go back and add rumble and other effects to games that never featured them previously, the application follows that line of thought to its commercial conclusion.
"in some implementations, it is desirable for an emulator to augment an executed game by adding audio and/or video information during game play," the patent reads. "for example, the emulator may add product placements, modify product placements, add informational displays, and the like."