PS4 Oculus Rift concept by T3
PS4 Oculus Rift concept by T3

We’ve dug up a patent filed by Sony which describes a method for independent RGB distortion and gamma correction on a “wide angle… virtual reality” HMD, bolstering our confidence that Sony is working on a PS4 VR head mounted display.

sony ps4 virtual reality hmd distrotion correction patentOptical Distortion Correction

One of the reasons that the Oculus Rift is so inexpensive compared to prior head mounted displays is that it uses incredibly simple optics. Just one lens separates the screen from your eye. The lenses focus the light from the display but warp the images on the other side. Powerful modern GPUs are leveraged to compensate for this; the rendering program pre-applies warping to the image that inversely matches the distortion introduced by the lenses. The result is a normal non-warped image — and a very simple optical system for the Rift, which keeps weight and cost down.

We’ve found a patent filed by Sony earlier this year and published late last month that describes a similar method of distortion correction. The method includes independent correction for each of the three RGB color channels, to combat chromatic aberration, a subtle separation of the RGB channels due to varying refractive indices of different wavelengths of light:

According to the technique disclosed in the present specification, in a display device obtained by combining a display panel [and] a lens, particularly the occurrence of color unevenness and the degradation of fineness as an adverse effect by signal processing independent for each color component can [be] prevented and it becomes possible to display images with higher image quality.

Hints of a PS4 VR Head Mounted Display

We’ll spare you additional technical details of the patent — what’s particularly interesting about it is that it specifies that such a method would be ideal for a “wide angle” head mounted display, and one that was designed for “the feeling of virtual reality.”

Quest Dominated Black Friday Search Volume in the US, Tied PlayStation VR Worldwide

Sounds like Sony is developing this method for use in their rumored PS4 VR head mounted display, which was expected to be announced at last month’s Tokyo Game Show. Perhaps coincidentally, the patent in question was published on the 19th of September, the same day that TGS 2013 began.

To our knowledge, of the modern consumer head mounted displays that Sony has released, they have never used the term “virtual reality” in their marketing or documentation, preferring instead to call their HMDs “wearable HDTV[s].”

Another recent patent for a Sony head mounted display (targeted toward the medical field) also does not use the term “virtual reality”. We haven’t seen “wide angle” crop up either in any recent Sony patents for HMDs, until now.

To see these two terms appear in a Sony patent that describes a method of distortion correction — one that would be useful in an Oculus Rift-like head mounted display with wide field of view — makes us more confident that the company is working on a VR head mounted display for gaming, probably to be branded with PS4 or PlayStation.

I’ve got $20 down on the name ‘PlayStation Vision,’ any takers?

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  • Paul James

    PlayStation Reality

    /called it

    • Mark Davey

      Let’s mention that there is clearly prior art given the Rift was demoed months before this was filed but given how bad the patient system is that no guarantee.

      • Holoplex

        The rules are now ‘first to file’… So whomever gets to the USPTO first, wins – as long as the patent itself is valid.

  • Mageoftheyear

    My money is on PlayStation Leap or Bound, Bridge… some kind of cheesy passive aggressive jab at the Rift :P
    Hey, at least this’ll give AAA devs more of a push to consider VR in their games. I’m okay with that.
    Though I’m not sure how far they’d get without all of the concept exploration the indie community has provided and will continue to.

  • eyeandeye

    Although competition in VR hardware would be good, I don’t think it’s good this early on. I’m hoping Oculus will get to set the industry standards first, so developers don’t have to try and create VR games that run on wildly different systems.

    • Mageoftheyear

      The patent roadblock is always a frustration in innovation, and from that perspective I always get a little edgy, but outside of the hardware issues the broader adoption of VR means UI in games will move further and further into being completely integrated into the game world. I assume that it is this design requirement that presents itself as the biggest (not that it is very big) barrier to devs unfamiliar with the concepts.

      I see the fact that they’ll be using different SDK’s as less of an issue than UI integration, as the weight of support is carried by the company pushing their product and SDK but the onus of design falls squarely on the shoulders of devs. With widespread acceptance devs will be more exposed to methods of completely eliminating static UI. Controllers will be a big part of this though, and it remains to be seen if the PS4 controller can even remotely (no pun intended) compete with the precision and adaptability of a STEM controller. Perhaps that will require even more innovative submerged UI on Sony’s part – but these are early days and speculation can only go so far before we become soothsayers.

  • Ed

    The challenge will be the pricing currently the HMZ units (just display and sound) cost from $700 to $1,000 with no motion or any type of sensing. So a truly VR unit I cannot imagine the price range….

  • Guillaume Simard

    Looks like the patent war in VR is coming. Microsoft is getting in the game too :


    • Mageoftheyear

      I haven’t read the whole thing, but the patent seems to be be specifically aimed at patenting audio & visual input metadata for the purposes of a multiplayer match-making system… and HMD’s will be there. Lol.
      So I can’t really identify and HMD related application in there, with a webcam and mic Microsoft could likely implement the same system on the desktop.

      My guess is that Microtroll threw the HMD bit in there either to hound a real innovator in the future, or that a patent is already out there for a desktop implementation of this. This application is much more of a sneer towards the Emotiv Insight Neuroheadset. Which coincidentally, Oculus may have some minor, unofficial interest in. Maybe.