Virtual reality (VR) technology has been around for years. But it’s still yet to capture the imagination of the public in terms of regular use. Arguably, the most popular form of VR technology today is the PlayStation VR headset.
On release, the headset cost more than the console itself. And though the cost of VR for PS4 has fallen slightly, it still hasn’t quite caught on.
Sony is aiming to change that. As reported by Venturebeat, the tech giant has filed a patent for something they call “Spectator View Into An Interactive Gamine World Showcased In A Live Event Held In a Real-World Venue.”
What in the world does that mean?
Essentially, the patent outlines how Sony plans to use a special seat — fitted with a number of cameras and other feedback devices, which will be inserted into place at Real-World Venue — which will allow the VR User to feel as if they are attending an event.
The mockups in the patent show an educated guess as to how the technology would work. The depicted event is a generic esports tourney from the PlayStation Plus League. This hints that esports may well be a primary focus for Sony. This makes sense for a number of different reasons, not the least of which is esports’ huge popularity.
How would Sony’s VR patent work?
In their patent application, Sony has mocked up how they see one of the seats working. The seats would look like a normal chair in profile, but they would have a camera at roughly head height (located on the top of the chair). Underneath this are two speakers and a video screen, which presumably feature the face of the person or people tuning in on VR to watch the event.
The patent also shows a number of sensors located in and around the seat that would tell whether real people are in the seats and would allow the user to feel part of the action. In addition, Sony details a way in which the VR headset would allow the person watching to not only feel part of a live audience but also ported into the game environment itself.
This is a hugely exciting potential enhancement.
Will Sony’s patent actually suit esports?
The big problem that Sony has to overcome with its VR equipment is the simple factor that many people do not like wearing anything that covers their eyes, ears, or head when engaged in watching TV, playing games, or similar. It is the age-old problem that has not only afflicted the proliferation of VR to a wider audience but also explains why technology such as 3D televisions has largely failed.
For Sony, the mandate is simple. They are going to need to make their equipment more affordable and accessible for the vast majority who don’t favor VR.
Certainly, in terms of market, Sony has hit the nail squarely on the head. Esports viewers and players are far more likely to be into technology such as VR headsets. While these sets have sold around 4.2 million for Sony since their release, they’re still not a must-have item. Changing the game has never been easy.
Image credit: Rosdiana Ciaravolo / Contributor / Getty Images