Microsoft Patents Projection Technology; Sony Announces Augmented Reality Headset

Microsoft and Sony aren’t just plugging away on consoles for the next generation; on a scale grander than ever before, peripherals – ways to expand the interactive experience outside the box – are becoming a core part of each company’s development strategy. PlayStation Move and the Xbox’s Kinect look only to be the start.

Today saw two designs revealed for peripheral technology concepts: one, a Microsoft patent, outlining a projection device that expands visuals beyond the television screen; the other, a Sony teaser trailer, previewing an augmented-reality headset which touts itself as “the future of entertainment.”

Patently Apple has the scoop on Microsoft’s prospective tech. Described a simultaneous function between a console, a motion sensor, and a TV-mounted projection device, the patent depicts a controller-less player directing gameplay (in this case a first-person shooter) as visuals project outward behind her/his screen, coating an entire wall face with the environment of the game.

Illustrated, of course, are the current Kinect and Xbox 360 models. But with the no indication that the technology is close to being finished (the patent was filed in Q1 2011), don’t be surprised if both are placeholders for the rumored Xbox 720 and Kinect 2.0. Microsoft doesn’t seem inclined at all to court the hardcore shooter demographic with Kinect in the immediate future. A few more years, a brand new console and greatly improved technological capabilities, however, could certainly see the device pair up with projection technology and change the shooter paradigm as we know it. There’s only the matter of turning every gamer’s living room into bare white walls.

Xbox 720 Projection Kinect

Not to be overshadowed, though, is the virtual-reality agenda of Sony. The official YouTube page of the company has released a sneak preview (seen below) of an upcoming 3D, augmented-reality headset which appears to be a radical redesign of last year’s HMZ 3D headset. Slated for a full reveal on September 22 at the Tokyo Game Show, the device captures real world footage through a front-facing camera, interposing digital, augmented images as it streams video to the wearer.

The trailer has only been released in Japanese, but fortunately the lingual skills of a NeoGAF poster appear to have provided the ballpark caption translations:

People, how far immersive?

It experiments explore the possibility of new entertainment“Institute immersive pleasure HMZ” head mounted displayHas been developed for the open experiment, models with head tracking system / live cameraTokyo Game Show head-mounted display “PROTOTYPE-SR” Limited 2012 Specifications※ jointly developed with RIKEN team FujiiNew 360 degree immersive entertainment sensationWorld of the music of the movie world flew in to the real worldExperiments conducted public 9/22, 23

(Deadline September 13, 2012) in recruiting an experience

You will witness the future of entertainment

Sony’s headset definitely constitutes a more finished product at this point; “immersive pleasure,” it seems, has passed the patenting stage. But in the end, the philosophy is the same: bypass the linear tunnel vision our brains use to view a television or computer screen, and transform picture – be it from a game, movie, or real life – into a fuller, vibrant, more engaging reality. Microsoft, too, has demonstrated their interest in wearable hardware for the Xbox’s future, but we’d be intrigued to see both projection and AR take off in the next generation.

Ranters, which concept do you prefer: projection technology that integrate motion controls, or augmented reality headsets?

Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Sources: Patently Apple [via Game Informer], Sony YouTube, NeoGAF [via CVG]

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