Sony may be currently working on a Kinect-like 3D device, as evidence has surfaced thanks to a recently published patent application. The patent specifically states it's for a "user driven three-dimensional gaming environment," but like Microsoft, Sony could market the device outside the PlayStation environment, possibly with the same device, or one altered to work in a PC environment.
According to the filing, the patent involves the use of a 3D depth sensing camera that, similar to the Kinect, sprays out infrared to determine depth. This allows users to interact with virtual objects on a screen in a 3D space. It will also alter the onscreen appearance of real-world objects, such as mapping virtual clothing to the user.
"An invention is provided for affording a real-time three-dimensional interactive environment using a depth sensing device," the patent reads. "The invention includes obtaining depth values indicating distances from one or more physical objects in a physical scene to a depth sensing device."
It goes on to describe a "system for providing a real-time three-dimensional interactive environment, comprising: a depth sensing device capable of obtaining depth values indicating distances from one or more physical objects in a physical scene to a depth sensing device."
The patent was filed last October by Richard Marks (not Marx, 80s junkies), a full year after Microsoft launched Kinect for the Xbox 360 console. Sony reportedly said it looked into using a 3D camera when designing its motion sensing device, but obviously decided to follow Nintendo and create a hand-held controller. Sony poked fun at the Kinect during the Move's launch, but likely ate its words as the Kinect darted past its wand-like device in sales.
And now the Kinect is on two platforms, meaning Sony needs to come up with something unique if it plans to take control of the motion sensing market (if there is one). Even more, Microsoft plans to reveal the next-generation Kinect this year at E3 2012. Falling behind even more now that Kinect for Windows is on the market, Sony may need to make a quick debut of its new motion sensing product this June too, giving everyone a taste and showing Sony won't go down without a fight.
To read the entire patent application, head here.