- Sony Interactive Entertainment has recently published a patent for a foot-operated position-based touchpad controller for use in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems.
- The foot-operated touchpad is large enough to be operated by two feet and includes one or more markers for room mapping.
- The touchpad features a mechanical edge that marks the boundary of the touch surface and can include a vibration element or a raisable edge.
- The touch surface can also include two or more movable touch-sensitive arrays, each coupled with a distortion map applied to inputs to account for their position.
Sony Interactive Entertainment has recently been awarded a patent titled “Foot operated position-based touchpad controller,” filed in June 2022 under the name of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. The patent, published last month, describes a foot-operated touchpad controller for use in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems. The touchpad is designed to be used by human feet and includes one or more markers for room mapping. The patent aims to provide an alternative to the current virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) control methods that are limited by room size or hand-held controllers, which can be imprecise or unnatural.
One of the major issues with current virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) control methods is the limited movement caused by the hand-held controllers, which do not allow for natural motion. Hence, they can not only be imprecise but also have other restrictions due to the room size and functionality of the hand-held controllers. Particularly in open-world video games where the in-game environment is vast to allow for exploration, such limitations can cause a significant decrease in the immersion of the video game.
“A controller apparatus includes a capacitive or resistive touch pad having a touch sensitive surface sized sufficient for operation by two human feet,” reads the abstract for the patent. “One or more markers are coupled to the touch pad. The markers are configured for use by a computer system for room mapping.” Hence, it seems like Sony Interactive Entertainment aims to alleviate some issues with current virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) control methods with the foot-operated touchpad controller.
According to the patent’s claims, the foot-operated touchpad controller can be operated by two feet and includes one or more markers for room mapping, which are used by a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) system to determine a floor plane. “A controller apparatus, comprising: a capacitive or resistive touch pad having a touch sensitive surface sized sufficient for operation by two human feet; one or more markers coupled to the capacitive or resistive touch pad wherein the markers are configured for use by a computer system for room mapping,” it reads.
Additionally, the foot-operated touchpad controller would have a physical boundary around the edge of the touch-sensitive surface to help players stay within the area that can be detected by the touchpad. This boundary is referred to as the “mechanical edge” in the patent, and it includes a vibration element that vibrates when a player’s foot gets close to the edge of the touch surface. This vibration feedback can help the player feel where the edge of the touchpad is without needing to look down at their feet.
Furthermore, the mechanical edge includes a raisable edge that can be lowered to allow a foot gesture off the touch surface. This means that if a player wants to perform a gesture or action that involves moving their foot off the touch surface, they can lower the edge to make that possible. The mechanical edge also includes an additional touch sensor that can be used as an alternative input to the virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) system. This means that the player can touch the mechanical edge itself as a way of giving a command or input to the system, in addition to using the touchpad surface itself.
The patent also describes the physical appearance of the foot-operated touchpad controller, stating that the touch surface of the touchpad can be both “flat” and “curved” in one dimension or two dimensions. Additionally, “the touch sensitive surface includes two or more movable touch sensitive arrays located proximal to each other,” which means that the foot-operated touchpad controller has more than one separate part located close to each other on the same touchpad surface, which can detect touch inputs from the player’s feet. These touch-sensitive arrays are movable, which means that they can be adjusted or moved by the controller itself. This could allow the touch-sensitive arrays to better fit the player’s feet and make it easier to detect touch inputs, even if the player’s feet are positioned in different ways.
Lastly, the patent reads, “The apparatus of claim 11 wherein a distortion map is applied to inputs from the two or more movable touch sensitive array to account for the position of the two or more movable touch sensitive arrays.” While the foot-operated touchpad controller’s touch-sensitive arrays can be moved or adjusted to better fit the player’s feet, the location of the touch-sensitive arrays may not always be the same, and this can affect the accuracy of the touch inputs. To solve this problem, the controller uses a distortion map. This means that the controller has a way of tracking the position of the touch-sensitive arrays, and it can adjust the touch inputs it receives based on their position. This helps to make sure that the touch inputs are always interpreted correctly, even if the position of the touch-sensitive arrays changes.
It is worth noting that Sony Interactive Entertainment has released a foot-powered motion controller for its virtual reality (VR) headset, PlayStation VR, in the past, 3dRudder. However, it seems like the foot-operated touchpad controller discussed in the patent is not the same as this one, as it is essentially a large touch-sensitive surface that can detect the position of each foot and the movement of the feet in different directions. In contrast, 3dRudder is a circular device that is tilted with one foot to move the character or camera in a virtual reality (VR) video game. Additionally, it includes one or more markers that are used for room mapping, whereas 3dRudder does not have any markers for this purpose. Hence, this foot-operated touchpad controller may offer a more intuitive and precise control option for certain types of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) video games than 3dRudder.
The patent represents an innovative approach to virtual reality (VR) and gaming that could help enhance the player experience. It provides a more natural and intuitive way for players to control their virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experience, and it could help eliminate some of the limitations associated with conventional hand-held controllers. The patent symbolises a significant step forward in the field of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and it will be interesting to see how this foot-operated touchpad controller is received by players in the future. However, it is important to note that this is just a patent for now, and whether it will actually be implemented by Sony Interactive Entertainment or not, only time will tell.
What do you think about this? Do tell us your opinions in the comments below!
Similar Reads: Sony May Adjust Game Difficulty Based On Players’ Real Locations