Sony's new virtual reality headset patent detects objects, simulates body posture, pupil movement, blinking

  • Posted December 12th, 2013 at 11:29 EDT by Kyle Prahl

A new patent filed by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. suggests the company is moving ever closer to completing its long-rumored virtual reality headset technology.

The latest features, spotted in the patent by NeoGAF user Rösti, describes an "object avoidance apparatus" that detects obstacles in an image of the real-world, calculates their distance from you, and replaces them with different, virtual objects.

The invention's background describes a desire to more fully immerse the player in a video game experience (hence, the wraparound, head-mounted display) with a need to protect the user from obstacles in their immediate vicinity. Our interpretation is that Sony's HMD (head-mounted display) would detect objects in your play space and integrate them into the game world with a virtual representation. The patent describes a warning signal that would trigger when the user gets dangerously close to such an object.

The patent also gives details about the headset at large. Interesting possibilities include an in-built camera that can detect pupil movement and blinking, adjusting the game image accordingly; a biological sensor at a frontal contact region that can detect "body temperature, pulse, blood components, perspiration, brain waves, and cerebral blood flow"; a posture-detection system to feed information to the game about head tilting and body movements; and moving-object detection that can both replace the object with a virtual one and simulate the object's real-world movement in the game.

Last month, we reported that, in an exclusive interview with PSU, Trine 2's developers had hinted at the existence and impending release of Sony's virtual reality headset. Before that, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida played coy with Eurogamer about the headset's existence.

Would you buy a head-mounted display for PS4 with these features? Is there anything missing from the package you think an HMD must have? Any release date predictions? Join the conversation in the comments. 

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Kyle Prahl is PSU's editor-in-chief and a Communications student at the University of Minnesota. If you care about PlayStation or the life of a pale Midwesterner, you should follow him on Twitter.
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