Sony have patented new controllers that could signal a next-generation PlayStation VR 2 headset.
Games industry experts have unearthed the application for the new-look wand controllers that look more like their Oculus rivals than the current Move Controllers.
Some believe the design is a prelude to a new-look VR headset that could be unveiled at the E3 gaming conference this summer.
Jem Alexander, of industry site MCV, said:
“Patents are never a surefire indication of new products, but they can give insight into things going on behind the scenes. Thought processes and R&D focus, that sort of thing.
“Two recent patents delivered to the Japanese patent office by Sony Interactive Entertainment show interest in improving the ability for players to interact with virtual reality games.
“Specifically, motion controllers that look much more akin to Vive and Oculus’ industry standard setting wands and less like Sony’s Move controllers.
“Crucially, these have analogue sticks, bridging the gap between the Move and the PS4 controller.
“The second patent, however, does away with controllers entirely and indicates plans for full finger tracking.”
Last year Sony quietly updated the PlayStation VR, releasing essentially a v1.5 of the hardware that, among other small features, allowed for HDR passthrough for PS4 Pro owners.
This indicates that, despite some industry naysaying on the growth of VR, Sony plans continued support for the device.
“Expectations are that we’ll see a PlayStation VR 2 by the end of 2018, a year after the 1.5 halfstep. Whether these controllers will come along for the ride is anybody’s guess,” said Jem.
The PlayStation VR headset has been such a success that more than 100 new games are now being planned.
Sony’s virtual reality headset has been a boon for the company as the first-mass marketed 360-degree immersive experience on the high street.
There have been 2million headset sales so far of the fledgeling technology and game makers are hoping that will double in the coming year or so.
Its success among gamers has given Sony the green light to make a load more VR games.
And they’re promising upwards of 130 new titles for the headset this year alone.
Bosses reckon the machine, which plugs into and is powered by your PS4 console, owes its great start to its ever dropping price.
The firm is the first to be able to offer truly 3D virtual gaming at a reasonable cost to consumers.
And they reckon its going to be much more than just a video games device in future, citing a forthcoming planetarium application to explore space virtually and the ability to watch blockbuster moves in a 360-degree space.
Sammy Barker, at industry site Push Square, said: “PlayStation VR is an amazing piece of technology, but as time goes on, the PlayStation Move is starting to reveal itself as something of a weak link.
“Sony was right to recycle the PlayStation 3 motion wand and it’s more than adequate for the job, but compared to the superior Oculus Touch controllers it’s not quite up to scratch.
“Fortunately, a couple of new patents hint at technology the Japanese giant may be looking to manufacture in the future.
“While we wouldn’t expect this peripheral to arrive until the PlayStation 5, they tease new motion controllers with analogue sticks and finger tracking technology.
“But there’s more: the patent also discusses the possibility of the head-mounted display – in other words, the virtual reality headset itself – being able to track the position of the controllers.
“To be honest it all sounds like a huge upgrade on the current setup, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this is a product that’s actively being prototyped behind closed doors.”
In a statement to Nikkei earlier this month, Sony said it expects to increase its PS VR titles by around 80% by the end of 2018 to 280 games.
Back in October, we saw the price drop of the PlayStation VR unit and it is currently on sale at high street store Game in the UK for as little as £225.
A rival Oculus Rift headset costs £399 in John Lewis.
Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida said last month that the firm continues to try to get gamers to experience the headset to really understand how good it is. He said:
“It’s a small community. And we respect each other.
“I think, the success of any of us, is the success of all of us.
“Because, [with] VR you have to experience it to really to understand the potential of this new medium.
“That’s the most difficult part, we were struggling. You have to communicate; you can’t just show the trailer, because the experience is different.
“Getting more people to try good VR for the first time is a win for all of us. We are working on good VR.”
The VR headset released back in October 2017 to strong reviews. You can see what we thought of the headset in our review, here: Daily Star PlayStation VR Review