Sony patent wants anything to be a game controller

Sometimes the first glimpse we get at what future products might look like comes in the form of art from patent drawings. The art seen in patents certainly doesn't always indicate what the final product will look like, but sometimes it does. A new patent application from Sony has been published with some interesting artwork that shows a controller shaped exactly like a banana.The patent also has some strange wording that says, "It would be desirable if a user could use an inexpensive, simple, and non-electronic device as a video game peripheral. The present disclosure seeks to address or at least alleviate some of the above-identified problems." The identified problems mentioned include controllers that have to be plugged in to charge or have the battery replaced frequently or are packed with technology like speakers and buttons and haptic feedback making them expensive.

The banana seen in the patent artwork isn't a banana-shaped controller that Sony wants to build. It's an actual banana that can be used as a controller. The tech outlined in the patent would allow any "non-luminous passive object being held by a user" to be used as a controller. In the Sony system, a camera would image the item a user is holding and track the item based on pixels, contours, and colors rather than QR codes or other techniques.

Sony's patent also talks about some of the methods used to infer the position of whatever object the user is holding in a 3D space. The object in the hands can be used to control the in-game camera, replace a controller stick, or pause the game if whatever is being held in the hands is put down.

The patent application also outlines a method of mapping buttons onto whatever the user is holding with the help of a camera mounted in a VR headset. It sounds as if Sony is aiming this at the next-generation PlayStation VR. As with any patent, there's no guarantee the technology will ever come to market.