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Sony Patent Suggests New Virtual Reality Controller

February 27, 2016 - Written By Curtis Bond

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 is now over, and there’s plenty to digest from all of the news and announcements that were made. Most people will focus on the myriad of smartphone launches from Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, and Sony, but the conference also showcased several other products and emerging technologies. Virtual Reality (VR) held a particularly strong presence at this year’s conference, with numerous companies introducing new hardware and / or talking up the potential benefits that the new technology might bring. Throughout the week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Samsung Electronics brought plenty of attention to the VR sector, but they aren’t the only companies looking to push the technology forward. Companies like Sony are also looking to capitalize on VR’s growing popularity, and according to a recently discovered patent, they might bring some innovative new hardware to the sector.

The patent describes the technology as a “glove interface object”. The glove contains a number of sensors that can register the inputs of various hand movements or hand actions and then render them in a virtual field, thus allowing users to interact with said field (such as a video game) in a more detailed and immersive fashion. According to the patent, the glove contains a variety of input mechanisms, including what are described as “flex sensors” and “contact sensors”. The flex sensor works exactly how its name would suggest: it detects the flex movement of whatever finger portion it occupies on the glove interface. The contact sensor registers any contact made with other portions of the glove interface, such as one finger touching another finger, or one finger touching the glove’s palm. The patent also mentions a “communications module” which collects the information generated by both sensors and transmits it to a device responsible for processing the data and determining the user’s “finger position pose”. The resulting pose is then rendered for the user’s virtual field on a VR headset.

While the patent goes into tremendous detail about the glove technology and how it works, it doesn’t provide any clear information on when customers might actually see the device for themselves (or if it’ll even make it to market). That being said, the glove would be a perfect fit (no pun intended) for Sony’s Playstation VR headset, which is rumored to debut sometime this fall. If and when that device goes to market, it would mark yet another addition to the suddenly thriving VR market.