New Sony patent outlines ‘temperature feedback’ Move controllers

Move controller temperature feedback patent

Let’s say you’re sitting on your couch, playing a new hit game. Borderlands 2 makes a good example. So there you are stalking the dystopian wastes of Pandora, when you come across an angry psychotic bandit wielding a gun that fires bullets literally made of fire. Normally when shot by such a weapon in Borderlands 2 your character will make an audible indication of distress, your screen will shake a bit and your controller might vibrate. However, a newly-published Sony patent may change all of that.

Officially dubbed the “Temperature Feedback Motion Controller,” this new design would allow those special wands used in conjunction with the PlayStation 3’s motion-controlled Move system to rapidly heat up or cool down on demand. Assuming Sony pushes this idea into mass production this could allow developers to add tempeture-based feedback to their titles. Instead of the standard grunts and tremors of our above example — which, yes, we realize is a bit poor given that Borderlands 2 doesn’t have Move functionality — future games might be able to directly simulate those flaming bullets by rapidly heating the controller the player is holding, possibly to the point of causing actual pain.

All of the in-depth technical info on this idea can be found in this official patent application, published yesterday by Sony and specifically credited to inventor Anton Mikhailov. Though Mikhailov’s name may not be immediately familiar to the average gamer, he’s most famous as one of they key software engineers behind Sony’s Move technology. In fact, if you watched any of the tech demo videos Sony published prior to the official public release of Move in 2010 (this one for instance) odds are pretty solid that it was Mikhailov featured in the clip demonstrating the device.  He also had a hand in Sony’s Move predecessor, the EyeToy system, as you can see in this demonstration of that technology.

Of course, you’re not here to hear about Mikhailov. Instead, you want more info on this still-hypothetical, temperature-based addition to Sony’s motion-control technology. While reprinting the in-depth details covered in the patent would be far too verbose for this article, the patent application’s abstract does an excellent job of explaining the device’s functionality, as well as its stated purpose.

“Methods and systems for providing thermal feedback are presented. In one embodiment, a controller for interfacing with an interactive program includes an outer surface having a plurality of first surface regions and one or more second surface regions,” it states. “The second surface regions are arranged in an alternating an adjacent fashion with the first surface regions. A heating source is coupled to the plurality of first surface regions, and a cooling source is coupled to the second surface regions. A thermal controller is provided for determining when to activate the heating source to heat the first surface regions and when to activate the cooling source to cool the second surface regions, based on thermal trigger data generated by the interactive program.”

Though the patent is, as one would expect, heavy on all the technical info that would go into making a system like this work, it lacks any indication of how far Sony is willing to take this concept. When reading the patent’s initial description, how many of you imagined Move controllers capable of sending painful burning sensations through the hands of users who are playing poorly? That’s not a novel idea — fans of the James Bond films will no doubt recall a scene in 1983’s Never Say Never Again in which the super spy is forced to play a version of Pong dubbed the “Painstation” that rewarded poor play with various painful stimuli — but it’s never been used in a mainstream video game system.

On the other hand, there’s probably not much profit potential in wounding users, so this patent likely won’t lead to a future in which your PlayStation leaves your hands blistered and smoking. It seems that we’ll just have to wait to see how/if Sony leverages this technology in its future plans.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Tired of the same PS4 annual releases? Try one of these indie games instead

While big budget games rely on practical innovation, indie games dive head first into new, unexplored territories. If the quirky and unusual appeal to you, take a look at our list of the best indie games on PS4.
Smart Home

Grow it, cook it, smoke it: Marijuana tech gadgets for your home and kitchen

Legal marijuana consumers buy around six marijuana products each month. Some of the products we found look like something out of a stoner sci-fi movie. Check out this collection of marijuana tech.

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Emerging Tech

Happy birthday, Hubble! Telescope celebrates with image of Southern Crab Nebula

In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit, where it has remained for nearly three decades collecting information about deep space. To celebrate its birthday, Hubble imaged the beautiful Southern Crab Nebula.
Emerging Tech

Star gives off superflare equal to 80 billion megatonnes of TNT. That’s a lot

A tiny star the size of Jupiter has been observed giving off a massive superflare 10 times more powerful than any flare from our Sun. The findings are raising questions about how much energy small stars can hold.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…