Sony has patented a gesture-recognising virtual reality controller capable of recognising hand position and individual finger movements - and even whether or not the person is grasping a real-world object, and if so how tightly.
First spotted by a member of the NeoGaf forum
, Sony's patent applications detail what the company describes as a 'glove interface object
,' a 'thumb controller
,' and 'systems and methods for providing feedback to a user while interacting with content.
' The first is, basically, an updated version of the classic Pax PowerGlove accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment system, capable of tracking finger movement and providing data for the rendering of a 3D representation of the user's hand in a virtual space; the second offers a means of inputting data through the user's thumb; and the final provides haptic feedback through the device as the user interacts with virtual objects.
Where the Pax PowerGlove simply tracked finger bending and the position and rotation of the hand in 3D space, however, Sony's design goes a few stages further. The ability for the glove to detect multiple contact points means that it would be possible to perform different actions by pressing your fingertips against different portions of the palm. It is also possible to use the data from the glove to determine the rough shape and size of a real-world object grasped by the player - and even how tightly it is being held, courtesy the integrated pressure sensor. Gesture control systems detailed in the patent include the ability to shape your hand into a gun and drop the thumb as a 'hammer' to fire, to hold up a V sign to hand over a bunch of flowers, or to grasp the hilt of a virtual sword.
While a patent doesn't necessarily equate to plans for a commercial launch, Sony is going to need a way to differentiate its upcoming PlayStation VR virtual reality headset from the crowd - and a modern PowerGlove could be just the ticket. Further evidence that there may be a product behind the patents is provided by the inclusion of an illuminated orb on the wrist portion of the controller - an orb which could be tracked by the PlayStation 4's camera accessory in the same way as its Move controllers and DualShock 4.
Sony, unsurprisingly, has not commented on the patents.