One year ago, at the 2011 Game Developer's Conference, Sony used its quad-core gaming handheld to summon a T-Rex... but when the PlayStation Vita shipped last month, its augmented reality capabilities were slightly less sophisticated. If you figured Sony had lost its AR teeth, though, you'd be wrong, as this year's GDC played host to an even more impressive tech demo. What you'll see in the video below is an in-house technology tentatively called "Magnet," and unlike most AR techniques, it doesn't need symbols or cards. Instead, you can simply point the PS Vita's camera at any surface with enough contrast and scan it, in a manner of speaking.

Then, the Vita employs pattern recognition to figure out the surface's features, marks each with virtual pins, and uses its motion sensors and camera to figure out the relative position of the augmented reality images it displays in relation to the real-world surface. What's more, the program even turns that surface into a video game texture that it can modify at will... for instance, one demo let us sculpt the carpet into mountains and valleys using the Vita's front and rear touchpads. We can definitely imagine some awesome game ideas using the technology, though Sony wouldn't say if any were in development right now. Either way, get a glimpse at Magnet (and an unrelated AR table tennis demo) in the video below.

Music credit: Da Chip