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Sony Patents 3D Depth-Sensing Device, Backward Compatibility Hardware

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Posted on February 20, 2012 AT 04:37pm

THE BUZZ: Two Sony-filed patents have been uncovered, ones which show the company not only working on potentially adding Kinect-like abilities to the PS Eye, but also hardware to support backward compatibility for games.

EGM’s TAKE: Patent filing discoveries are always interesting—while they might not tell us for certain what’s coming next, they do often give us a look at technology that companies are working on (or a first look at technology that indeed ends up getting released).

Today we have two Sony patents found by Panajev2001a over on NeoGAF. The first is a 2011 patent for a “depth sensing device” which could understand and track elements in a “three-dimensional interactive environment”. To me, this sounds like technology that could potentially give the PlayStation Eye motion-tracking abilities similar to what Kinect can do.

An invention is provided for affording a real-time three-dimensional interactive environment using a depth sensing device. The invention includes obtaining depth values indicating distances from one or more physical objects in a physical scene to a depth sensing device. The depth sensing device is configurable to be maintained at a particular depth range defined by a plane so that objects between the particular depth range and the depth sensing device are processed by the depth sensing device, wherein the particular depth range establishes active detection by the depth sensing device, as depth values of objects placed through the particular depth range and toward the depth sensing device are detected and depth values of objects placed beyond the particular depth range are not detected. The objects placed through the particular depth range are rendered and displayed in a virtual scene based on geometric characteristics of the object itself.

 

The second is a filing done in February 2010 (but published last week) which talks about a “compatibility adapter configured for connection to an external connection terminal of a new-generation game device is provided”.

What in the world is this patent application talking about? A device which contains “old-generation” technology that could be plugged into a “new-generation game device” in order to provide backward compatibility for older games. Basically—imagine the idea of a PlayStation 4 where, instead of having to build PS2 support into the console, you could offer that support as a separate external purchase.

A compatibility adapter configured for connection to an external connection terminal of a new-generation game device is provided. An old-generation processor unit is a processor unit compatible with the processing function of an old-generation game device. When it is determined that the type of a recording medium storing application software is for the old-generation game device, a hub receives data, which has been input to the new-generation game device, from the new-generation game device via the external connection interface. Data extracted from a received packet is supplied to the old-generation processor unit and processed accordingly. The hub supplies the processed data to the new-generation game device via the external connection interface.

So—potential 3D environment tracking for the PlayStation Eye, and possible backward-compatibility modules for your next PlayStation console.

And interest at all in those two ideas? Have your say in the comments below!

Source: NeoGAF

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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