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Sony's EyePad patent shows off a controller that can bring real-world items into games

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Various sources have put out a pretty comprehensive list of features we might be seeing on the new PlayStation. But a recently-published European patent shows us the kind of thing Sony is considering for its future peripherals, whether they show up in this generation or not. The "EyePad" patent (a name chosen to match Sony's EyeToy camera and EyePet virtual pet, not Apple's tablet) covers a new controller system that uses a pair of stereoscopic cameras placed along a panel or touchpad. As shown above (labeled 1030A and 1030B with "R" and "L" designations), the cameras sit diagonally from each other, creating a depth map that lets them check if objects (like a hand or toy) have been placed near the pad.

It's designed as a console peripheral — and could incorporate other features from existing controllers — so the result is something like a game board that can tell what's been placed on it. Lights around the edges would serve a similar function to the Move's glowing tip, letting a PlayStation camera check the orientation of the EyePad. Sony mentions its potential use as an augmented reality tool, describing an EyePet "grooming table" or an in-game environment that responds to gestures on and above the EyePad. The cameras and sensors could also potentially recognize everyday objects: "if the user places a can of cola on the touchpad, depth maps and images for both sides of the can are obtained, enabling the generation of a virtual model" in-game.

The controller's cameras could generate a 3D model of items like hands or soda cans

Like any other patent, this is a sign of what Sony is thinking about, not what it's necessarily putting into new products. But it's an interesting take on augmented reality that echoes what we've seen from Disney or the Skylanders figurine-based games. As we wait to see whether a new PlayStation is coming on February 20th, we'll be keeping it in mind.