As spotted by the eagle-eyed Benjamin Abbott (writing for Games Radar) it seems Sony is at least considering delving deeper into VR. A recent US patent (dated 21 May 2019) is now available online showing what looks like a pair of hi-tech oven mitts but is technically described as:
Dynamic gloves to convey a sense of touch and movement for virtual objects in HMD rendered environments.United States Patent and Trademark Office
So in other words… VR compatible haptic gloves! The term “Haptic” refers to the use of technology that will stimulate touch receptors (in this case those of the hand) to mimic what a viewer is seeing via their head-mounted display (HMD). So you’d theoretically be able to ‘feel the sword in your hand as you pull it from the (virtual) stone’.
(Virtual) Reality Check
Now, of course, as I’m sure you’ve read many times before (including every time anyone writes anything about filed patents) this story comes with a disclaimer. Companies file patents all the time. And a new patent doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what the company is currently working on. However, we know that Sony’s first major State of Play presentation was completely VR focussed. And so we can safely assume they have big plans for VR in the future. We also know that they’re currently working on their next-gen console. So it’s not a huge leap to assume that they’re actively interested in taking the next step in the VR space. And if all the sci-fi stories are to be believed – real-time haptic feedback is one of the inevitable big next steps. So it makes sense that Sony would like to get their foot (or hand) in the door.
No matter the outcome, it’s fun to imagine that we may be taking a step closer to a Ready Player One future. I personally can’t wait to take a corner down Rainbow Road while feeling the steering wheel pull furiously at my left hand, while my right-hand flings a green shell at a bullish Bowser that dared to ride my slipstream.
Now, if they could just do something about my motion sickness…