Microsoft recently filed a pair of patents that may hint at some plans the company has for its next-generation Xbox console, currently known by the codename Project Scarlett. Both patents were filed in 2018, but they were only just published on October 3 of this year.
One of the patents filed by Microsoft is for a Virtual Reality Floor Mat. The patent shows a Kinect-like device attached to the top of a TV that's aimed at someone using a virtual reality headset and controllers. They're standing on a specialized mat, which would in theory take the guesswork out of whether or not someone is in view of their camera - a problem that some VR headsets struggle with to this day.
The other patent filed by Microsoft is for a "Six Degree of Freedom Input Device," and it shows what appears to be a stylus that players can use to interact with content on the television. The patent shows players rotating objects using the stylus, with a picture of Earth and a wizard used as an example.
It should be noted that companies file patents all the time that never actually materialize. So it's quite possible that Microsoft intended for this technology to be incorporated into Project Scarlett or even the Xbox One X, but has since changed its mind. After all, Microsoft isn't currently producing any camera technology for the Xbox brand since discontinuing Kinect, and it has pushed back against recent reports that claim its new console will launch with a Kinect-like device.
Even so, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see Microsoft try its hand at virtual reality on console in the next-generation. The PlayStation VR has proven to be the most popular virtual reality headset on the market, and Microsoft's relationship with Oculus could see it potentially bring a VR headset to its platform without actually having to develop one of its own. In fact, the controllers seen in the VR mat even look like Oculus Touch controllers, so maybe that's exactly what Microsoft is planning.
Then again, Microsoft may have decided against going into the VR space. We really won't know if either of these patents will see the light of day until Microsoft itself makes an official announcement, so fans should keep their expectations in check until then.