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Sony PS4 Eyepad peripheral patent uncovered

Sony has filed a patent for a next-generation gaming peripheral known only as the Eyepad, which could be designed to work with the upcoming PlayStation 4 console.

A punny reference to Sony's own EyeToy range of camera-based peripherals and Apple's popular iPad family of tablets, the device appears to be an extension of the concept found in the Skylanders game series, which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags embedded in real-world plastic miniatures to load characters into the game - a clever move that allows gaming companies to continue to profit from add-on sales long after the game itself has been purchased.

The Eyepad, it appears, is an extension of that concept. Detailed in European Patent EP2557482, the Eyepad is described as "an input device for an entertainment device comprises a first main surface, one or more side edges, one or more motion sensors operable to generate motion data, and a wireless communicator for transmitting the motion data to the entertainment device". There are also mentions of stereoscopic cameras for some kind of 3D gameplay mechanics.

Working through the somewhat dense language common to most patents, the EyeToy appears to be a 3D scanner combined with a motion-sensing surface. Objects placed upon the surface are scanned using a pair of stereoscopic 3D cameras - the same technology found in Microsoft's Kinect - in order to create a digital representation, while movement of the objects is tracked using multiple motion sensors.

The result: a platform which could, theoretically, put almost any object into a game and track its real-world movements over a virtual playing surface. Quite how this would work in-game, other than allowing the player to augment his or her troops in battle with real-world objects like miniatures or even a bottle of ketchup, is not covered in the patent.

Sony's concept is certainly novel, and an interesting way of combining the real world with the game world - but we'd be surprised if the device makes it to market with the EyePad name intact, regardless of how different it may be from Apple's tablet family.

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