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Sony Patents Matrix-Like Game Technology

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the better-than-a-giant-needle-in-the-back-of-your-head dept.

The Matrix 532

howman writes "Reuters is reporting that Sony has been granted 2 patents, both describing 'Method and system for generating sensory data onto the human neural cortex'. These are patents 6,729,337 and 6,536,440. The patents go on to 'describe a technique for aiming ultrasonic pulses at specific areas of the brain to induce sensory experiences such as smells, sounds and images'. The story was first broken by New Scientist magazine." Commentary also available via Ars Technica.

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532 comments

What about that third patent? (5, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#12164616)

Wonder why Reuters left this one out...


There was a third patent, entitled "Method and system for utilization of the human body as a clean, renewable energy source". It goes on to describe "a process for extracting thermal, biochemical, and electrical energy from the human body, ensuring a clean, renewable power supply for the Machi^H^H^H^H^Hrest of the population".


I'd keep an eye on Sony if I were you...

Re:What about that third patent? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164747)

Your signature repulses me.

Lawsuits (5, Funny)

Scoria (264473) | about 9 years ago | (#12164619)

So, any bets as to which pornographer Sony will be suing first? ;-)

Re:Lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164827)

The Hugh-Hefner Foundation for Photo-Realistic Character Animation, Body Scanning division, Executive Suite, Waterfront Plaza, Honolulu, Hawaii?

Re:Lawsuits (2)

Bazunok (868402) | about 9 years ago | (#12164835)

Well, considering that there is probably a fair number of pornography sites are owned by 'slightly shady characters', I dont think Sony would want to take on the wrong one.

They wouldnt want to give up their multi billion dollar 'legitimate income source' due some stupid patent. Hey, maybe this will be the end of patents?

PS9 (2, Funny)

mesach (191869) | about 9 years ago | (#12164624)

Looks like they are already working on the PS9, Hopefully they can reach the launch date of 2019.

I Can't wait to play that wipeout like game they had in the commercial!

Re:PS9 (5, Insightful)

harrkev (623093) | about 9 years ago | (#12164767)

The funny thing is that, if real, this is most likely a worthless patent. The patent will likely expire long before something like this is even possible.

Sort of like patenting an idea for making money by mining hydrogen gas from stars in a distant galaxy.

Re:PS9 (3, Funny)

afd8856 (700296) | about 9 years ago | (#12164820)

This idea is not new. Patenting it means they've probably hired an army of lawyers that will try to change the IP laws, extending the patent duration.

Now let me take my paranoid hat off.

Hmmm.... (1, Funny)

Punboy (737239) | about 9 years ago | (#12164625)

Well first off, first post? Second, Isn't this a little far-fetched? Why patent something that probably won't be possible for a long time? How do they even know it will BE possible? Or is this already in beta? :D Is this a belated april fools?

Re:Hmmm.... (2, Interesting)

Yartrebo (690383) | about 9 years ago | (#12164690)

Because they want to be able to extract rents from whoever does make it possible for the next 20 years.

My only question is why didn't they submarine these suckers.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164771)

"My only question is why didn't they submarine these suckers"

Because you don't know what a submarine patent is and they changed the rules so you can't do that any more.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164802)

Because they want to be able to extract rents from whoever does make it possible for the next 20 years.

Patents must disclose how to use the invention. Sony doesn't say how they can do this. Therefore, the patent isn't valid.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164851)

More than that - you can't patent something in the public domain. And I think "Stimulating the brain directly to produce sensations" has been in many SciFi books before now.

Patents are also for *future* protection (2, Informative)

Cyclotron_Boy (708254) | about 9 years ago | (#12164785)

Patents are not the same thing as a full proof of operability. Basically, a patent is intended to cover current capability and any future expansion of a given technology. This is why there are so many patents for things that don't exist now, but might in the future if a particular technology is advanced/developed. It is interesting to me that the public at large assumes that if a technology is patented that it automatically means it is scientifically proven. Herbal supplements [cockeyed.com] that might claim to do any number of things might also be patented, but that just means the process or composition is patented, not that the claimed benefit is proven.

In short, while Sony may have patented the technology, it will be a long time before we have UT2k4 on a neural link.

Wheeeww (3, Funny)

Gaewyn L Knight (16566) | about 9 years ago | (#12164626)

At least with sound they don't have to stick a heavily wired icepick into my brain.

See technology is already passing Sci-Fi up. :}

Re:Wheeeww (2, Funny)

jb.hl.com (782137) | about 9 years ago | (#12164737)

At least with sound they don't have to stick a heavily wired icepick into my brain.

See technology is already passing Sci-Fi up. :}


And, apparently, Leon Trotsky [wikipedia.org].

Paradise Engineering ... (5, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | about 9 years ago | (#12164627)

... finally [huxley.net].

Now let us just hope that we ourselves do not conflict with any (coming) patent so that we can take full advantage.

More seriously (?):

Sony hasn't yet built a device that works based on the ideas presented in the patent, so this is all theoretical. In fact, according to the New Scientist, Sony hasn't even conducted any experiments to see if this works. Nonetheless, most of the reporting on this patent (see the Times Online and the original New Scientist peice) claim that some independent experts have said that the idea is plausible. There's no word yet on whether or not tinfoil will stop the ultrasonic brain rays.

Strange. I bet there are some among the crowd here who have "theoretical ideas" that level up with SONY. IIRC, in ancient times it was necessary to present a working model (at least here in .de).

CC.

Re:Paradise Engineering ... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164740)

IIRC, in ancient times it was necessary to present a working model (at least here in .de).

Are you sure? The original purpose of patents were to protect lone inventors so that they could secure funding to build their invention without having their idea ripped off. Kinda defeats the object if they have to build one first.

Re:Paradise Engineering ... (5, Informative)

Cyn (50070) | about 9 years ago | (#12164842)

No, it was to give them a temporary monopoly since they (theoretically) spent all that time/money developing it - since it should not have been something that is plainly obvious from existing knowledge/technologies.

In fact, originally (in the US, from 1790) a model was required to demonstrate how it functioned, but that requirement was removed in 1870.

I would argue that maybe you don't have to actually build one, but you need to throw down a lot of proof that you know it could work, and if things don't work out that way then you haven't yet patented whatever you've just created, and you need to patent the proper method.

Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (4, Interesting)

hunterx11 (778171) | about 9 years ago | (#12164630)

...that Sony can patent something not only which they have not implemented, but which they do not even yet know how to implement?

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 9 years ago | (#12164662)

What's odd is that they don't know how to implement it. They describe a technical method of transferring data to the brain that's technically feasible. The question remains whether one can be trained to interpret the headaches...

No, not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164683)

There have been several patents granted for perpetual motion machines, which violate several laws of physics. (that means they don't exist and never will - but don't let that stop the US patent office)

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (5, Insightful)

DJDutcher (823189) | about 9 years ago | (#12164684)

If Sony dosn't know how to implement this, wouldn't the use of this technology in the Matrix be prior art? The movie makers know as much about how to do this as Sony does.

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164698)

Not in the U.S. patent system, no.

Nor does it seem odd that it's possible for a company to hold the patents on a technology like hydrogen fuel cell engines just so that nobody can use them, and so that people are forced to continue to depend upon fossil fuels.

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (4, Informative)

Gadzinka (256729) | about 9 years ago | (#12164715)

No, it's perfectly good from business angle:

1. patent some idea
2. wait for someone to build some device implementing this idea
3. profit

Noticed, there is no "unknown" step between 2 and 3?

Robertt

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd...nope! (1)

strider44 (650833) | about 9 years ago | (#12164765)

Not at all! I'm about to go and patent intersteller travel and quantum computing. I did physics in high school, so I figure I'm expert enough to get a patent. I'll get it eventually, or at least someone will.

Don't worry, it's America. Get a few billion dollars behind you and you can get away with anything.

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (1)

caryw (131578) | about 9 years ago | (#12164773)

I was hoping this would mean they would be implementing their patent relatively soon (PS4 anyone?) but it looks like that won't be the case. Sony has held a patent [uspto.gov] to display images on the retina since 1992! And it still doesn't look like we'll be getting anything like that in the near future. Maybe Sony PSP2 or PSE (Playstation Eye?)
--
Fairfax Underground: Fairfax County message boards, forums, and public arrest/ticket records [fairfaxunderground.com]

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (1)

XorNand (517466) | about 9 years ago | (#12164832)

Since patents are only valid for 17 years, makes you wonder if they're really shooting themselves in the foot? Assuming they get the retina imaging thing working this year, they'll only be able to reap the benefits of patent protection for 4 years. It would make more sense to patent something that was nearly marketable.

Well, the reasoning was pretty good.. (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 9 years ago | (#12164814)

...the idea was that if you came up with a brilliant idea, but lacked the funds to invest in R&D, materials, production equipment, distribution model etc. etc., you could patent it and then get investors. Otherwise your "investors" could just run off with your idea and cash in.

That works quite well for items that are "non-intuitive". Where it does not work well are for items that are "intuitive" (yet probably not obvious), the technology is "coming", but there's no implementation yet.

For example, say I went out and patented creating CPUs with nanotechnology. Obviously, if it could be done it would be a hit. You expect the product to appear, so you patent it and wait for someone else to actually do it.

The real question is what part is there that is innovative, the idea or the implementation? Or maybe it is both? Patents have been made to protect ideas. But there's a whole chunk of "innovation" that it doesn't cover, or is directly in opposition to.

Kjella

Re:Doesn't it seem a bit odd... (2, Insightful)

netfool (623800) | about 9 years ago | (#12164823)

Not only that, but you would think that, by the time they are able to implement it on any type of broad/consumer market, that the patent would be expired. I mean, I really can't see them rolling this out anytime soon.
Wait, wait a minute... Maybe they got one of those special Disney-like-never-ending-copyright patents? Then it would make sense.

Matrix-like technology? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164634)

You mean the first third is good, whilst the rest is shit?

Interesting patent idea.

Re:Matrix-like technology? (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 9 years ago | (#12164837)

This patent may be too closely related to the Coppola's "the first 2/3rds are great and the final 1/3 is unbelievably terrible" patent and the Lucas "50/50" patent.

Suprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164636)

What a strange coincidence that Sony also happens to own Everquest?

I wonder ... (2, Insightful)

Sonic McTails (700139) | about 9 years ago | (#12164637)

I wonder if they can do this, considering that the idea does come from the Matrix, and thus that it could be considered prior art.
Well, if/when any lawsuits come out about this, we'll see if it does then.

HAHAHA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164639)

f1r5t p05t 5uck3r5

GNAA pwns j00

Working proto-type? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164640)

Do they have this working or are they "patent-squatting"?

PSP ... is it acceptable.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164643)

to pronounce it 'pussp' ???

pussp == psp ???

just wondering!

will this ever be profitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164650)

Don't patents last less than 10 years? Is this going to be a commercially viable technology within the patents lifetime? Are Sony just going to use it to sue the pants off of all the research institutions that will undoubtedly be implementing this technology first?

Re:will this ever be profitable? (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | about 9 years ago | (#12164699)

Kind of like how Douglas Engelbart got a patent for the mouse in 1970. Too bad nobody started selling them until 13 years later.

Re:will this ever be profitable? (1)

Xavic (826170) | about 9 years ago | (#12164731)

hmm, maybe sony is being a good guy and patenting it now so that when the technology is viable it will be public domain? btw, patents last for 14-20 years, depending, so its really questionable...

Overloards (1)

Sperryfreak01 (855471) | about 9 years ago | (#12164652)

I for one welcome our new Sony overloards and give myself up to them to become a battery for the new PS3 but only if they release their exclusive hold on Soul Calibur 3 and GTA

question (5, Interesting)

R.D.Olivaw (826349) | about 9 years ago | (#12164654)

Can someone enlighten me please.
How detailed, exact and 'can be done with the current technology'a patent claim has to be in order to get granted? I mean they can't implement these patents now, can they?
Can I just take say the teleporter and describe it as a commuting device that works by transforming matter into energy, beaming it and retransforming it back to get a patent for it?

Re:question (3, Interesting)

Yerase (636636) | about 9 years ago | (#12164777)

This is one of the fundamental flaws with the US patent system. You can get a patent on just about anything so long as you can write a plausible explanation for it (and "plausible" is all up to the examiner). If you can't honestly built the item you're proposing, then the patent office just gets your money for free. If one day someone else does, and you try to sue them for Patent Infrigement, then they can file a countersuit proposing that you don't know what you're talking about. At that point, it's up to the courts and generally the guy with the most money wins.

Re:question (2, Funny)

Chris Kamel (813292) | about 9 years ago | (#12164819)

given the way things are goin they may come up with some home or personal device with voice recognition, and then you'll just have to say "Patent teleporter" and you're done

Patents (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164658)

If sony can patent this, then I wanna patent say, the genetic code of clifford the big red dog.

"I know kung fu!" (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about 9 years ago | (#12164659)

Now Tank can just upload the experience of having played the game into my cortex; no longer will I have to waste hours of my life mastering some shitty game!

What is the matrix? (1)

nmg196 (184961) | about 9 years ago | (#12164664)

Unfortunatly nobody can be told what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself.

Wait...let me get this straight.. (2, Funny)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 9 years ago | (#12164668)

...you're going to shoot what now? At my brain???!

I'll grant you, it's not really doing much else, so it could, in a pinch, substitute for a targetting dummy. However, as I am firmly attached to it, this seems like an idea who's time will never come.

Patenting Ideas (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 9 years ago | (#12164670)

I love how they've patented a method that is as of yet unimplementable. Regardless of who actually goes to the trouble of researching and spending the time prototyping an idea, patent holders usually get to skim off the cream, because, well.. we thought of it first.

Would some slashdotters please hurry up and patent AI, warp drive and/or superhuman genetic mutation please. Wait! better yet, patent methods for processing the new social security system on a computer! Then deny anyone the right to use it. That ought to make all the old trips on Capitol Hill wake up and notice!!

Re:Patenting Ideas (1)

mysticwhiskey (569750) | about 9 years ago | (#12164825)

Agreed, the fact that one can patent an (as yet) unimplementable idea is absurd! Surely, if you can't do it, you can't patent it? Gah!

Re:Patenting Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164859)

I love how they've patented a method that is as of yet unimplementable.

And therefore the patent isn't valid. A patent must disclose how to build/make/use/implement the invention. How did the patent office allow this through? Oh yes, there are too many idiots at the patent office.

Regardless of who actually goes to the trouble of researching and spending the time prototyping an idea, patent holders usually get to skim off the cream, because, well.. we thought of it first.

Everything in this patent has been disclosed/proposed/theorized before. Therefore, this (alleged) invention isn't new, and therefore isn't patentable. How did the patent office allow this through? Oh yes, there are too many idiots at the patent office.

Smart Move (1)

NetMagi (547135) | about 9 years ago | (#12164673)

This is a smart and bold move on Sony's part. I think the uses of something like this are more far-reaching than first glance.

For example, imagine you're scheduled for a minor surgery and instead of 'doping you up fairly good', they simply simulate a nice walk on the beach, a fishing trip or otherwise.

Depending on how broad the patent is (I didn't read so I'm really not sure), this could net sony A LOT of income in 10-15 years.

Re:Smart Move (1)

yotto (590067) | about 9 years ago | (#12164838)

For example, imagine you're scheduled for a minor surgery and instead of 'doping you up fairly good', they simply simulate a nice walk on the beach, a fishing trip or otherwise.

Yeah, and then the power flickers and you spend 3 seconds in searing pain stairing at a spotlight as they're putting your nose back on, before going back into the VR equivalent of the OS loader.

I'll take the drugs, please.

Patent on Vapor ? (5, Insightful)

Peeteriz (821290) | about 9 years ago | (#12164677)

'Elizabeth Boukis, spokeswoman for Sony Electronics, says the work is speculative. "There were not any experiments done," she says. "This particular patent was a prophetic invention. It was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us." '

Hey - so it basically means that they do NOT have made an invention, but have a patent to get all the profit, when some real inventor makes it real 10 years later ?

This is ridiculous. Patents should be granted for novel implementations, not for ideas that someone might implement in future. The scientists that find a working solution should get the patent, not some lawyer who is just speculating on where technology might go.

How do you get US inside the head? (3, Insightful)

janek78 (861508) | about 9 years ago | (#12164678)

The skull is well known for being a barrier almost impenetrable for ultrasound, it is only possible to use US imaging for certain areas accessible through foramen magnum (the big hole at the bottom) or more recently also through the thin bone at the sides.

I wonder how they manage to get it in and focus it.

Sounds very exciting though, I'll be glad to see it put to some sensible use. Focused neurostimulation to treat tremor associated with Parkinson's could be one (done by implanting electrodes today). Or treatment od epilepsy could be also one application.

Re:How do you get US inside the head? (1)

mr_snarf (807002) | about 9 years ago | (#12164707)

No, this isn't really exciting. Sony just have the -idea- for it, haven't made a working model, or, afaik, even conducted any experiments. Just patenting the idea to make money from it in the future if its possible.. (Didn't think that was possible)

Re:How do you get US inside the head? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164844)

Needles!!!!!! Big, Long NEEDLES!!!!!

You shouldn't patent something not created! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 9 years ago | (#12164681)

First of all, the idea itself is decades if not centuries old. Second of all, by the time anything is built, they just limited the amount of time they can collect royalties or whatever it's called when someone has to pay for using someone else's patent. What in the world are they thinking?

One small limitation on ultrasonic stimulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164686)

It only works on people without skulls.

Just what we need (3, Insightful)

CDarklock (869868) | about 9 years ago | (#12164687)

Remember all the old "smell-o-vision" jokes? Insert your favorite one here.

The thing that scares me is how any new technology is used *badly* for the first three to five years. Force feedback was around for a good long time before anyone did anything sensible with it, and even stereo sound was heinously abused in the early days. I can just imagine the hideous misfeatures that will pop up with this.

And for the conspiracy theorists among us, Drs. Chaffee and Light in the UK supposedly had some limited success controlling the human brain with radio waves in the 30s. If either of those are cited in the patent application, we might want to steer clear of any game using this technology...

Creating more landmine patents (1)

blueskatz (241135) | about 9 years ago | (#12164689)

Sony's gotten burned by patents in the past. Now's there chance to be on the offensive and nab up any future innovations they may or may not choose to develop some day.

Now that I think of it, I'd better go patent time travel and warp drive. If they're ever invented, I'll be stinking rich!

Re:Creating more landmine patents (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#12164803)


I'd better go patent time travel and warp drive


No point in patenting time travel...whoever actually invents it will go back in time and retroactively patent it before you.

Interesting side note...the absence of a time travel patent is good evidence that time travel will never be invented...

Where is the prototype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164691)

Since they already have this invented can we expect to see this as an add-on to the PS3?

Great for Advertising... (3, Interesting)

Zate (687440) | about 9 years ago | (#12164701)

I can see it now.. walking past a McDonalds advertising sign and suddenly hearing that stupid jingle in my head and smelling and tasking Mickey D's Fries.. gonne be great to be bombarded with advertising like this.

Another example of patents gone wrong (1)

Xylaan (795464) | about 9 years ago | (#12164710)

From the New Scientist article:

Elizabeth Boukis, spokeswoman for Sony Electronics, says the work is speculative. "There were not any experiments done," she says. "This particular patent was a prophetic invention. It was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us."
Now, IF they had made something like this. Or IF they had performed some preliminary experimentaiton, then I wouldn't have a problem with this patent. As it is though, they've simply patenteted using ultrasound to generate neural impulses. Of course, the devil and the difficulty in such an invention is in the details (getting SPECIFIC sensory input), and not in the general concept.

As it is, you couldn't use this invention to recreate it (remember, the point of a patent is to allow someone sufficient 'skilled in the art' to understand the invention so they could build one). So why was this patented?

Re:Another example of patents gone wrong (1)

argent (18001) | about 9 years ago | (#12164788)

Reminds me of how Richard Feynman got the primary patent for the nuclear rocket.

What is Sony's contribution? (1)

Redwing (311189) | about 9 years ago | (#12164716)

IANAL, so please someone explain:

They read some research papers and then patented the technology. But what have they contributed to this field that enables them to get exclusive rights to anything?

Can I patent "teleportation" right now?

Hazards? (1)

Ikkyu (84373) | about 9 years ago | (#12164718)

Does it bother anybody that they are suggesting that they "poke your brain" with ultrasonics to elicit a response? Sounds like a psychiatric treatment from the 1950's.

2 Thoughts... (2, Insightful)

McBainLives (683602) | about 9 years ago | (#12164721)

1) Anyone ever read A.C. Clarke's "The Hammer of G-d" or "3001" - looks like Sony is working to make the "BrainMan" a reality! 2) From the discussion it seems like these patents may be subject to a (very rare) challenge on "usability" grounds. If the idea is only theoretical, how can they be said to have "reduced it to practice" in patent parlance?

Not Matrix (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | about 9 years ago | (#12164723)

More like "Strange Days" [imdb.com], IMO. (hmmmm Angela Bassett)

Because if you can beam stuff in, you can probably record stuff out.

I'd rather have that sci-fi come true than the Matrix any day.

Matrix-like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164726)

Very stylish but doesn't stand up to much thinking.

period of validity? (1)

Paradigma11 (645246) | about 9 years ago | (#12164730)

isn't the validity of a patent limited for a certain period? if yes, shouldnt the countdown start now, many years before a actual working prototype is made?

Shame... (1)

MP3Chuck (652277) | about 9 years ago | (#12164735)

What sort of implications does this have for the medical world, who may be able to use this (should it ever actually be implemented) to help those who are blind and/or deaf? Will they have to go through Sony?

Smells? (4, Funny)

Aumaden (598628) | about 9 years ago | (#12164745)

sensory experiences such as smells, sounds and images

Seeing goatse and tubgirl are bad enough. But, Smells??!

/me shudders and runs screaming

You'll need to be brainwashed just to feel clean after that.

What the article doesn't say (1)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | about 9 years ago | (#12164755)

Is that you have to take a blue pill first, otherwise you wake up in a bathtub with millions of others, wired to the national grid.

Toys (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164769)

I see a whole new generation of sex toys and games already.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164772)

Sony's legal division announced plans to initiate legal action against infringors. "We're planning to target the end-user of infringing systems," said one Sony lawyer. "We're particularly interested in locating infringors using systems such as eyes and ears. We believe these techologies are included in the patent, and we are prepared to move agressively to protect our investments." Sony has also contacted Rome and Mecca in an effort to identify the source of the illegal sensory-input devises and curtail their world-wide distribution.

Sony Overlord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12164805)

I for one welcome our new Sony Overlords

How can... (1)

karn096 (807073) | about 9 years ago | (#12164812)

They can patent an idea thats only been thought of, and that many many have mentioned before. It seems to me this is screaming eventual lawsuit. Plus this _sorta_ discourages any research being done into the topic by any outside influences aside sony. This is a stifle on innovation, no company is going to want to touch the idea, especially with the legal weight sony has.

Heres the patent for those who dont RTFA

"A non-invasive system and process for projecting sensory data onto the human neural cortex is provided. The system includes a primary transducer array and a secondary transducer array. The primary transducer array acts as a coherent signal source, and the secondary transducer array acts as a controllable diffraction pattern that focuses energy onto the neural cortex in a desired pattern. In addition, the pattern of energy is constructed such that each portion projected into the neural cortex may be individually pulsed at low frequency. This low frequency pulsing is formed by controlling the phase differences between the emitted energy of the elements of primary and secondary transducer arrays."

Well I guess i'll be using sony brand brain plugs to surf slashdot.

Handicapped (1)

loconet (415875) | about 9 years ago | (#12164822)

If this ever gets implemented, this will obviously change how we "see" entertainment forever. But even more important, as the article hints, think about the blind and deaf! Could this technology be used to send the data directly to their brains and allow them to see and hear again? I personally have lost more than 50% of my hearing in one ear because of a childhood infection to the ear drum and I can tell you that I would really much like to hear how the world sounds at full stereo again. Exciting technology.

In a related story... (1)

tyates (869064) | about 9 years ago | (#12164840)

The Architect is being sued for patent infringement, and Neo, Morpheus, and the Oracle for violations of the DMCA.

What happend? (2, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | about 9 years ago | (#12164841)

What happened to the times when you had to actually invent something before you could patent it?

Another chance to complain about the patent system (2, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | about 9 years ago | (#12164845)

Maybe I'm stating the obvious here, but this is a perfect example of why the current patent system needs to be reworked, or tightened up at the very least. If SONY's patent on this technology is actually upheld and valid, then this absolutely discourages innovation.

Why should some engineer or company try to actually make the proposed design work? As soon as they do, they lose the invention to SONY, who didn't do anything. By owning a patent on something that doesn't yet exist, they make it unlikely that the thing will ever be invented. Only SONY would have any incentive to develop this technology.

The only possible upshot is that if silly companies patent far-fetched ideas too early, then the patent might be running out exactly at the time when it is becoming technically feasible to build the damn thing. Then again, this would probably prompt court fights for extension of the patent (but your honour, we are only now starting to be able to make money off of the mistake we made years ago...).

Invalid patent/ Patent abuse (2)

Hyperkinetic (142875) | about 9 years ago | (#12164846)

Neurobiology and neuropsychology research have used these techniques for decades. Does this mean Sony is going to start sueing the researchers who pioneered the techniques? Prior art can be proven hundreds of times over, not to mention Sony hasn't created a damn thing. The article states '[The] patent "was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us."' 'Patented inspiration'? This is nothing more than abusing the patent system.

"Make someone's day" - Niven's tasp is coming (1)

Doofus (43075) | about 9 years ago | (#12164854)


It's just a short hop to the tasp - the device used by the puppeteer in Niven's Ringworld books designed to remotely stimulate the pleasure center of the brain.

What a wonderful world it would be if you could "make someone's day" on the metro, or in the middle of a traffic-jam, or in the midst of a mob scene.

Think of how valuable a device like the tasp would be for subduing violent criminals - one second, a rampaging hoodlum, the next second a vegetable-like mass, drooling with uncontrollable pleasure that is pure and unadulterated. Better than sex, better than heroin, better than speed, and no hangover.

Of course, knowing humanity, our first use will be to produce agony and pain, not pleasure, as is the case with many new technologies with such potential. We'll see!
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