With the growing success of the Oculus Rift, and more recent developments like castAR, it seems that the next wave of immersive game development can be found in head-mounted displays. Both those examples have very different goals, but whether it’s Virtual Reality or simply Augmented Reality, gamers have been hoping that major manufacturers would take note.
So it will interest tech-savvy gamers that the latest patents uncovered by Sony don’t just hint that the company is looking to outdo their previous attempts at head-mounted displays, incorporating noise-cancellations, image detection, and much, much more. Will Sony take on the Oculus Rift with the PlayStation 4?
There have been reports for some time that Sony was developing a VR headset for some time, with many believing it would be officially unveiled at TGS 2013. But the show came and went with no reveal, presumably to keep Sony’s message for the coming year clearly focused on the PlayStation 4.
Now, new patents filed by Sony in May of 2013 have been uncovered on NeoGAF, giving a better sense of what technology the company may be pursuing in the realm of head-mounted displays.
One patent pertains to the likelihood that many users will be wearing the head-mounted displays along with noise-cancelling headphones – to maximize the immersive experience. Sony’s patent allows for certain emergency sounds – fire alarms, doorbells, babies crying, etc. – to be detected and allowed through. That functionality would address the most obvious concern for skittish gamers seeking immersion, but the patent also allows for the the “unobscuring of vision” if a hazard is detected moving towards the user.
That would seem to imply a new form of viewscreen than a simple display, and it’s not the only mention of semi-translucent displays that can be found in the patent. The other telling advancement patented by Sony is in regard to image stabilization by detecting head movement. Those terms might conjure images of Oculus-Rift level immersion, but are actually dealing with a more passive problem. Mainly, if users are attempting to watch any content that isn’t meant to be moving with each slight shake of the head, the display would be able to move the screen in the opposite direction so the image remains stable.
Most interestingly, those patents seem to aim at experiences fairly different from those offered by Oculus Rift. Those same previous reports claimed that the headset would work in conjunction with the PlayStation Eye camera, able to pick up markers on the headset itself. If that is the case, then the means by which the headset could correct head movements seem a bit clearer.
So it may not be confirmation that Sony is targeting the same audience as other developers of head-mounted displays, but interesting nonetheless.
What do you make of Sony’s patents? Does this seem like a move to simply bring traditional gaming to head-mounted screens, or are you hoping for something greater? The possible advancements in both noise cancellation and image stablization are intriguing on their own, so we’ll keep you updated as more information arrives.
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