Sony Patents a VR Gyroscopic Seat Posture Control System
Sony has filed patent describing a new VR-based input device that shift’s the player’s body orientation as they play virtual reality games.
The patent is of a gyroscopic seat which will fasten the user to a seat and rotate their relative body position in response to what they are experiencing in a virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD). The patent was filed with the US registry office and it talks of a full-body posture control device that will control the player’s posture by fastening them to a gyroscopic seat and then spinning them around inside a sphere where the players will have complete freedom.
The patent request details a “posture control system” which consists of a posture control unit capable of changing the direction of the user’s body along with that of the head-mounted display unit that the user is wearing.
The gyroscopic seat will work by detecting the direction that the user is facing in VR and then shift their body position to reflect the new virtual environment. The seat will also be built with a system that will be able to detect the direction the user’s face is looking at so as to display the correct images in the head-mounted displays and help reduce a sense of discomfort coming from a discrepancy between the virtual space and the real space.
The patent document says the posture control system will be like a little ride that the user can strap themselves into. The system will have a “drive unit” that will turn the seat on the three rotational axes that are mutually intersecting at right angles. Specifically, on the X, Y and Z axis.
From the description, it sounds like a portable “mini theme park” or a little virtual reality arcade ride similar to the virtual reality bumper cars recently unveiled in Germany that immerse HMD-wearing users into a steampunk-inspired virtual world.
Unfortunately, we can only imagine how this device will look like and function. Sony has attached a single image on the patent filing and it seems like a fabulously cool and futuristic concept that will one day revolutionize modern gaming as we know it.
With the right support and tethering, the gyroscope posture control system will enable players to deploy the gyroscope as an input device and use it in controlling the virtual versions of themselves by leaning in certain positions, a use-case similar to riding a Segway. It could also be ideal for flight simulation or racing VR games.
This could make it possible to have hyper-realistic and highly immersive renderings of certain experiences in virtual reality such as hovering, skateboarding or skiing. Skilled players could in the future use this gyroscopic seat in performing super-immersive spins and flips that will accurately simulate a kind of super hero experience in VR. From the picture shared on the patent application, it is clear that the gyroscopic seat has been designed to be used in the seated position so it may have been designed for other virtual reality experiences where the user has to be seated such as in the virtual reality rollercoaster rides. Activities such as skiing or skateboarding obviously require the user to be in standing position. However, for now we can only speculate. The Sony engineers will have to figure this out and if the device sees the light of the day, we will eventually get to know in the device reveal.
If it is priced right, somewhere in the range of $1000 to $2000, then the device could work as a mainstream consumer gadget. It looks huge and is certainly a gaming device that you would carry around but if you will be playing at home, it is practical. After all, many gamers already prefer room-scale virtual reality experiences. Also, with this, you won’t really need a couch. Comfort is likely to be a major design factor given that some gamers may want to spend hours in this contraption.
Still, it is important to keep in mind that this is only a patent and it may not go past the patent phase into production. Companies generally use patents as placeholders for possible future products. But with its futuristic look and the potential for a revolutionary gaming experience it could usher in, we sure do hope that Sony will go the whole hog and develop the product.