Back in May 2006, Sony filed a patent application, titled “Detectable and Trackable Handheld Controller,” which approaches motion sensing control in a totally different way than the Nintendo Wii does it.
Unlike the Wii’s internal accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors, Sony’s patent uses a series of four LEDs on the front of the controller, which provide points of reference for a webcam device that sits on top of a TV. The webcam monitors the position and shape of the LEDs to determine the angle and velocity that the controller is moving at to calculate movements in all three dimensions. In addition, the LEDs can be modulated to transmit button pushes to the console wirelessly. Since each device has a unique modulation code, multiple controllers can be used at the same time.
This seems like a pretty simple idea, almost like the opposite idea of the Wii “sensor bar”, which provides orientation context to the Wii’s remote controllers. I’d think the big downsides would be the amount of power that would be required to constantly power and modulate those 4 LEDs.
[via New Scientist]