- Sony has filed a patent for an eye tracking system for VR games, which allows for in-game responses to player gaze direction, pupil dilation, and more.
- The patent suggests using this technology in multiplayer games and provides an example of staring at a person’s cleavage, leading to different dialogue options.
- The filing is unusual due to the nature of the technology described and the suggestive example provided by Sony itself, raising eyebrows about potential uses and censorship efforts.
A recently announced patent filed by Sony revealed that the company is developing an eye-tracking system for VR games that would allow in-game responses to a player’s gaze direction. The listing for the patent, titled “Using Gaze Tracking to Influence Player Choices in Interactive Multiplayer Narratives,” shows it was originally filed on December 21, 2022, around the same time other companies including Microsoft announced similar eye tracking patents.
Virtual reality technology has seen a lot of progress and innovation in recent years, and Sony is among the major corporations pushing innovations in VR for use in video games. The company produces the PlayStation VR headset, one of the leading VR gaming headsets currently on the market, and has filed similar patents in the past related to new VR technologies.
However, this new patent is a little strange, not only because of the nature of the technology described, but also because of the strange examples provided of how the system could be used. Simply put, the patent describes a system that would enable a VR headset to track a person’s eye movements, and provide feedback based on the direction of their gaze, the dilation of their pupils, and more. The patent suggests using this technology in multiplayer games specifically, although other Sony projects have already demonstrated the potential uses of eye tracking in single-player VR horror games as well.
The strangest thing about the patent filing is that, while describing how the technology could be used, Sony gives the example of staring at someone’s cleavage. Beginning in paragraph 26 of the Description of the patent, a scenario is described where two players are interacting in a multiplayer game, one controlling a customer and the other controlling the shopper. In this case, the character of the shopkeeper is seen as “a woman fitted with a low-cut blouse,” and may be offered different dialogue options, during the conversation, “the customer player’s eye goes to the shopkeeper’s low-cut blouse (staring at her cleavage).” According to the patent, these dialogue options could include “My eyes are up here” or, interestingly, “I see you like what you see.” It is unclear how the suggestive interactions implied in this example might be limited by Sony’s efforts to censor age-restricted content in VR.
Even without entering into the speculation that this suggestive example seems to invite, this filing in itself is quite strange. While Sony isn’t the only gaming company to announce strange patents recently, this particular piece of eye-tracking technology stands out because of the potential implications of how it could be used. Improper suggestions will always be made regarding potential applications under systems like this, but it’s really strange to see a company making such suggestions itself, in its own patent filing.
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