The patent filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office details an actual robot companion, not a PS5-orientated virtual assistant, making this one of the more bizarre PlayStation patents we’ve seen. The robot drawn in the patent looks something like a cartoon sketch of a cloud with eyes, arms and legs, which Sony describes as a "human-type pet-type robot”.
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Sony envisions the robot as a form of a companion to go with the PS5, which will sit with the user and watch movies with them, as well as watch their gaming and react to what’s happening on the screen that the PS5 (or a later PlayStation console) is attached to.
"A user places a robot nearby and views contents together, while the robot communicates with the user by outputting a reaction to empathize with the user or outputting a reaction against the user conversely, on the basis of a deduced user's feeling," the patent explains.
But the robot could also take the form of a virtual object when the user is wearing a head-mounted display, likely a PS VR headset.
“In the embodiment, in the virtual space constructed when the user wears an HMD, a mechanism is proposed in which the content is reproduced in front of the user, and when the user turns sideways, the user may see how the virtual character is viewing the content together with the user,” the patent said. “Similarly to the robot, the virtual character also communicates with the user by outputting the reaction to empathize with the user or outputting the reaction against the user conversely.”
The patent also details what looks like some form of sensor or camera on top of the TV the console is connected to. From what we can glean from the patent, this camera system is part of what Sony describes as a “feelings deduction unit” that uses camera footage, motion and biological sensor data, and audio inputs to detect how someone using the console is feeling and thus can instruct the robot how to react.
The idea of a robot companion might seem odd for some, especially when online gaming and Twitch streaming is so prevalent that people rarely need to game alone. But Sony reckons such a robot could help encourage people to game.
"It is expected that the user's affinity with the robot is increased and motivation for playing a game is enhanced by the robot viewing the game play next to the user and being pleased or sad together with the user,” the patent added.
As the hype and competition between the PS5 and Xbox Series X builds ahead of their release toward the end of 2020, it looks like Sony will explore innovative, if slightly bizarre ways to help its console and PlayStation ecosystem stand out.
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Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.