Sony’s newly filed patent may very well usher in a new era of gaming peripherals, similar to the way Nintendo changed gaming with its interactive Wii-mote controller.
Since the inception of console gaming, there exists a myriad of peripherals that were created to bring a new form of interaction for gamers. Some accessories, like the iconic Nintendo Zapper, became a mainstay within the industry and were huge commercial successes.
Other oldie peripherals–such as the Konami LaserScope headset–failed in their attempts, although they remain curious examples of tried innovation. Many of us can remember those gimmicky add-ons and tacky accessories that had little to no actual practical functionality within games.
Within the current modern age of the gaming industry, the playing field has changed considerably, with dramatic innovations from giants like Nintendo (the Wii U’s touchpad or the Wii Zapper), Microsoft (both Kinect sensors) and Sony (PS Move and the PS Camera).
Many consoles, however, aim to tap devices like smartphones and tablets for second-screen functionality, somewhat phasing out peripheral interaction in various ways.
However nothing replaces the thrill of gunning down zombies in an arcade-style shooter like House of the Dead: Overkill with Wiimote guns–and its this same interactive gaming that Sony aims to capture with their new device.
Sony’s filed patent focuses on a curious new peripheral that emphasizes modular transformation: it can transform back and forth from a machine gun to a sword.
But it doesn’t end there. Below is the abstract taken from the patent filing that describes the peripheral and its functions:
“A block tool, which can be assembled by a user, is configured with multiple types of blocks and is shot by a camera for capturing a still image or a moving image. The position coordinates of a marker of the square-pillar block in a three-dimensional space are obtained by image recognition.
“Also, a connecting position and the type of each block, a gradient vector of the square-pillar block, an angle between two blocks constituting the square-pillar block, and the respective blocks’ lengths are obtained so as to derive the shape, posture, and position of the block tool, and corresponding information processing is then performed.”
This “build-your-own” style controller has a wealth of potential applications for the AR (augmented reality) environments created via Sony’s PlayStation Camera. The figures show a multitude of combinations including weapons and even animals, presenting a Lego-like foundation for AR interaction.
The full patent sheet is quite complex and is made up of various applications for the technology, illustrating many different methods and assorted combinations for AR gaming. We could very well see the Playroom, for example, acting as a suite to host a smattering of mini-games that are powered by the block-based controller, presenting a dynamic level of gameplay interaction between gamers and the game itself.
Additionally there’s the prospect of this modular controller being used to interact with Sony’s rumored virtual reality PS4 headset. The idea is alluring to be sure, and as VR gaming is on the rise, we may see the Japanese gaming titan shed more light on its plans to enter the virtual ring.
This tech is still very early and the project may very well fizzle out before it hits the market, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see how it shapes up in the next coming months and years.
If utilized properly and marketed correctly with a stream of engaging content, Sony may very well have a winning peripheral on their hands–especially due to its flexible and modular nature. Be sure to check out the entire patent document over at NeoGAF for more info and diagrams.