Sony Interactive Entertainment has filed yet another patent on VR technology, this time focusing on increasing the player’s immersion by swapping out generic spectators in games like sports games or driving games, into friend avatars. This one was filed last year, and was published this month.
In this patent, Sony argues that while having an audience has always been the way to increase the immersion of a game, the technology surrounding this aspect has not been advanced for some time. Rather than use generic, low-poly models, Sony suggests a system where some of these spectators are swapped out for friend avatars.
The feature would be applicable to things like racing, sports, combat sports, and more. Apart from increasing immersion, this would also enhance the social connectivity element of the games.
In one configuration, it is easier to tell who are your friends’ avatars by showing their account profile picture alongside it.
However, the most interesting part about this patent is how these friend avatars will not be using something like the models used in PlayStation Home and the like – they are modeled off the actual person in real life, using an avatar engine that copies their real-time look then stores it as an avatar for game use.
The avatar engine uses data from the VR headset of friends as well as some sort of camera to capture footage, that is translated into preset options that are the closest match to your friend’s likeness.
When both the player and spectator are online, the spectator may be able to request to view your gameplay from a spectator standpoint, which will also activate the capture system.
You’d be able to see clips of gameplay where you’ve been inserted as an NPC, or ones where you friends have joined you as spectators in the game.
Interestingly, this isn’t the only patent published recently that mentions some sort of tracking or video capture from within the VR headset. Recently, we also wrote about a patent where the technology could be used to let VR spectators and live venue spectators of eSports interact in real-time, which you can read more about here. While how Sony plans to actually take PSVR into its next iteration is still unclear, it’ll be interesting to see if this technology is actually included.