When Nintendo launched the “Power Glove” in 1989, it was so bad at that time that it failed to get attracted by the gaming community and tech enthusiasts. But, now, it seems that Nintendo was almost three decades ahead than the current technology innovations, as Sony Computer Entertainment has just filed three patents on its own “Power Glove” kind of glove controller for Virtual Reality headsets.
Many of us have already tried the virtual reality demos, but we weren’t able to see our hands as well as use them as in normal life we do. Just think, how it would be if you see and feel your hands and interact with the virtual reality things with your hands? It will make a difference in the user experience of any virtual reality headsets.
The companies including Microsoft, HTC, Google, Apple and Samsung would have tried to develop a technology to achieve this goal, but it looks like Sony is ahead of all of these tech giants in refreshing Nintendo’s 3-decades old technology into the virtual reality world. Sony Computer Entertainment has filed a patent application for a virtual reality tech and called it as “glove interface object” to could help tracking of virtual reality hand accurately without holding any controller.
These three patents were originally filed by Sony on October 17, 2014, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office only published it on this Friday. A few months ago, Sony Computer Entertainment has unveiled its Virtual Reality Headset, then known as Project Morpheus to the general public. That means, this timing of patent application suggests that this isn’t just a random patent application to fill its catalogue.
Meanwhile, Sony PlayStation VR is already using a hand-tracking solution, which is nothing different than its 2010’s PlayStation Move controller, which was launched with its PlayStation 3 gaming console. However, the latest hand glove has far better technology to accurately track the hand movement, as well as finger movements. Unlike Sony’s handheld wands, the new glove-kind of controllers with more sensors can “identify a flex of at least one finger portion.” New controller’s contact sensors can detect when you touch a thumb to another fingertip, and one more group of sensors can measure the user’s “finger position pose.”
The patent document reads:
“The controller’s aim is to simply provide a way of touching, holding, playing, interfacing or contacting virtual objects shown on a display screen or objects associated with documents, text, images, and the like.”
The patent application, published by the US Patent and Trademark Office also shows an illuminated “trackable object” in the glove for positional tracking, similar to those Move controllers’ ability, but no need of holding it. And the document also mentions inertial sensors to detect the tilt of the wrists. Meanwhile, a pressure sensor could “quantif[y] an amount of force applied to at least a portion of the glove interface object,” to “define a level of an action… for the virtual environment.” Sony has also integrated “haptic feedback” sensors to provide the user some tactile sense and feel of the object held in hand.
You may think, if Sony applied for these patents in 2014 and released the VR headsets after an year, then how could this tech is aimed at virtual reality? It could be developed for normal gaming consoles to replace its PlayStation Move controllers. For this question, here is the answer. This Power Glove-kind of tech was being designed with VR in mind, the patent document mentions “head-mounted displays” that “can provide a visually immersive experience to the user,” multiple times.
It should go without saying that a patent application isn’t the same thing as an actual product in development, and there’s no indication whether or not Sony is actually working to bring these kinds of VR gloves to the market. That said, we really hope Sony manages to finally fulfill the promise embodied in the clunky but beloved Nintendo Power Glove. That would be so bad.
The claim goes on to describe “a trackable object that is configured to be illuminated during interactivity,” “at least one inertial sensor for generating inertial sensor data”, a communications module “configured to receive haptic feedback data”, and “at least one pressure sensor configured to generate pressure sensor data”.
The claim also noted that the “virtual gloves may be worn by multiple users in a multi-user game.”
“In such an implementation, users collaborating may use their gloves to touch objects, move objects, interface with surfaces, press on objects, squeeze objects, toss objects, make gesture-actions or motions, or the like,” the claim said of this emergent tech.
It’s important to note that just because a patent has been filed, that doesn’t mean a product of this nature will actually see the light of day. There’s no telling how much a project of this magnitude would cost or how well it would work in practice. But it does suggest that Sony is at least considering this form of wearable computing we all found so inspiring back in the Fred Savage days.
Here is a documentary, which will refresh your knowledge about the original Power Glove gadget: