Most of the times the habitual patenting process that all sorts of companies tend to practice is a thing that doesn’t always concern journalists, unless it’s weird controllers, revolutionary items, or rounded rectangles that other companies are being sued for copying.
But Microsoft has seemed to have caught everyone’s attention with a new patent – an idea that has never been seen in actuality before but has always been dreamt of. PatentlyApple seems to have sited it first, and the least anyone could call is mind-blowing.
The device patented has been termed by Microsoft as an ‘environmental display’, and functions to cast 360 degrees images of a game world onto the four walls of a room. It uses some advanced projection technology to do so, which determines the player’s position by emitting infrared patterns, and ultimately registering the regions where they are being reflected or blocked.
The accuracy of this technology would allow players full three 360 degree viewing capability, including the liberty to turn back and look at any enemy attempting to flank. The projected images will be an extension of the primary image being displayed on the TV or other viewing device connected to the console (and also this environmental display system).
Though the title figure illustrates an example of a 2D display device, Microsoft states:
“…it will be appreciated that suitable 3-D displays may be used without departing from the scope of the invention…the user may enjoy an immersive 3-D experience using suitable headgear, such as active shutter glasses configured to operate in synchronization with suitable alternate-frame image sequencing at primary display and environmental display.”
A clear indication any aware gamer would get from the above set of statements is that this technology may be compatible with the widely rumored Kinect Glasses technology that was leaked in June. For those who don’t know, the shutter glasses are supposed to work with the Kinect, with the camera detecting where the player is looking by sending signals to the glasses.
The methods used in this patent, and the combination of the two advanced technology of shutter glasses and environmental image projection, will provide the most sophisticated data ever of the player’s position and localization.
The ideas are heavily intriguing, and though their practicality seems a bit far-fetched for the current generation, Microsoft seems to understand fully what it is doing, and the in-depth patent content depicts their heavy on-going research and efforts.
A debate could arise amongst old-school gamers that this would snatch away the simplicity of using a control with a limited field of view to accomplish feats in the virtual world the classic way, but anyone with a thirst for futuristic and livid gaming would be licking their lips after seeing this patent.
Another debate that seems to arise more naturally is the feasibility of this project in terms of cost. Such a high-profile technological gaming device would be expected to come with a hefty price tag, and its affordability might restrict it to only the financially strongest gamers.
The issue only melts down to how clever (and successful) Microsoft is in converting this seemingly expensive technology into one that most enthusiast gamers with a lust for futuristic experiences will be able to afford.
At the moment it is impossible to determine with utmost certainty when the Xbox 720 will be released, but if it is actually released with this environmental display product – that too at a somewhat affordable price range –it is easy to say that the console will enjoy a position in the Hall of Fame of gaming revolutionaries.