It's no secret that in the war between Move and Kinect, Kinect has decisively won. Microsoft's motion-tracking peripheral has been a major sales success, and Kinect version 2.0 is widely expected to launch alongside -- and perhaps be bundled with - the company's next console, code-named Durango.
A patent filed late last October reveals that Sony is investigating a similar, camera-based motion tracking solution.The great irony, of course, is that Sony was the first company on the scene with a motion-tracking camera: Eye Toy for PlayStation 2. When PlayStation 3 rolled around, Eye Toy was upgraded to the PlayStation Eye, which to this day is a major component of Move.
The new patent, titled "USER-DRIVEN THREE-DIMENSIONAL INTERACTIVE GAMING ENVIRONMENT," was filed October 26, 2011, by Richard Marks, the very same individual responsible for both Eye Toy and Move. The application describes a device that closely mirrors the functionality of Kinect.
From the "Summary of the Invention" portion of the patent application:
"Broadly speaking, embodiments of the present invention fill these needs by providing a real-time three-dimensional interactive environment using a three-dimensional camera. Generally, embodiments of the present invention allow the user to interactive with, and affect, computer-generated objects and environments that are combined visually with the user's actual physical environment."
Along with an extensive written description of the invention, the patent application includes a number of illustrations that detail just how things will work.
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That Sony is investigating new technologies is hardly a surprise -- all of the big three hardware companies are constantly looking for the next big thing. For that matter, there is no obvious reason why the technology described in the patent application wouldn't work with PlayStation Move as it currently exists, as long as players are willing to invest in a new camera as part of the set-up. Should it come to fruition (and there is no guarantee that it will), the new camera could potentially allow players the option of using the Move Wand or going totally controller-free.
The real question is, what console is the technology targeted at? Despite Move's mediocre performance in the marketplace, it seems awfully late in the current generation for Sony to take yet another shot at motion-control parity with Microsoft and Nintendo. That, obviously, leaves PlayStation 4 as a real possibility.
Could Dr. Marks' latest invention be ready for the launch of Sony's next system? If so, will Sony include it in the box? You know that Sony's not talking, but what do you think?
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