Sony unveiled this week that it filed at least eight patents in October 2009 that may hint at what is to come in its technological advances. Five patents involve new touch control methods for handheld devices and the other five are for user interfaces. These patents may involve Sony’s PSP2 handheld gaming console-a currently unannounced but confirmed to exist product.
Patents include concepts such as a “handheld device with two-finger touch triggered selection and transformation of active elements.” This seems to confirm the notion that Sony will develop a touchpad on the back of the PSP2, which when combined with early images of the alleged PSP2 that the touchpad will be separated from the device’s main screen.
The idea behind this development is to prevent people’s fingers from blocking the very screens they plan on touching. The screens on handheld devices are very small compared to computer and television screens. Because of the small size, fingers-especially larger ones-tend to be imprecise means of selecting objects on the touch screen. When selecting one item on the touch screen, the finger may overlap onto another selectable button, which makes selection a difficult process that is in need of a revolutionary means of interface. This has been particularly frustrating for me during one touch screen game where it was game over for me unless I gingerly pressed on an exact spot on the screen. Even with my small fingers, the slightest deviant touch resulted in a buzzer announcing my failure and a consequent chucking of the touch screen device in hand.
The patents describe a separate touch screen. If it is truly placed on the aforementioned back of the PSP2, this will allow users to have better control over the touch screen. Using the finger on the rear touch screen, the interface will render itself to feel like a mouse icon on a computer-something very familiar. Other features seem to allow users to zoom in or perform on-screen actions while being able to see where the finger is. The result is a more precise interface on a handheld device. The other Sony patents look like a dynamic reconfiguration of the user interface in relation to how the software will be programmed into this device.
Or perhaps all of these patents are instead intended for the rumored Playstation Phone. In any case, Sony definitely has a few new touch control interfaces planned for us.