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Sony Computer Entertainment America Files 'Laugh Detector' Patent
Sony Computer Entertainment America Files 'Laugh Detector' Patent
August 17, 2009 | By Kris Graft

August 17, 2009 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

As new types of input devices change the way we interact with our video games, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a patent that would track users' laughter and emotional output when playing a video game or watching other types of media.

Published in the European Patent Office on August 6, and unearthed by Siliconera, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a patent for a "laugh detector and system and method for tracking an emotional response to a media presentation."

In short, it's a system that "...asks and answers such questions as: What makes people happy? What makes them laugh? What do they find interesting? Boring? Exciting?" according to the filing.

The system would collect a user's emotional output -- such as laughter, a smile, or a yawn -- via a microphone and/or a camera, for example. The feedback would then be tied to metadata "at a time reference level in the media presentation," in order to track the kind of response a player or viewer would elicit at a specific point in a presentation.

The patent also said the system could implement a 3D camera system, specifically naming the ZCam by 3DV, which has since been purchased by Sony rival Microsoft. A 3D camera in the emotion tracking system would recognize the shape of an individual's head and use that as a reference point for detecting facial expressions, the patent said. It could also sense multiple individuals, for example, giving each other a high five.

While the patent's title indicates that the invention is a laugh detector, the filing goes on to say that the invention would ideally be able to sense other emotions, such as sadness, excitement, anger, boredom, and so on. Emotions from a wide group could be tracked via a network as well.

The patent doesn't go into specifics beyond what the system would do beyond tracking users' emotions, but one could imagine how future games might evolve in real-time in order to accommodate, or even exploit, a users' electronically-perceived emotions.

Below is an image from the patent filing:


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Simon Ludgate
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This patent made me giggle. But did Sony detect it?

Tim Carter
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This is truly like something out of Monty Python. It's what happens when we turn over entertainment to engineers: machines designed to make us laugh. Absurd. But the scary thing is, in the urge to analyze and reduce comedy to a mathematical equation, these guys won't see how truly deluded they are. (But then again, whitecoats have done that sort of self-delusion for years now.)

Maurício Gomes
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What is the image on TV? A machine that when you turn the crank kick your butt or is only my inpression?

Doug Poston
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User-Operated Amusement Apparatus for Kicking the User's Buttocks. Patent No. 6,293,874.

Aaron Casillas
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Bravia $2000-5000

PS3 $399.99

Lazy boy $241.65

Game $70

Laughing device $150

kicking your self in the arse= priceless

Mariano Cerrutti
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The program in the picture is a metaphor of the whole system

Mike Lopez
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In the above images, why is The Joker laughing?

Should we really think no one else has thought of the potential value of detecting emotions? I imagine they are just comparing the shape of the mouth/eyes to some key frame emotional templates, which is not really that novel of an idea but they will still probably be granted the patent anyway.

The patent office needs to start knocking down gaming patents. They are bound to continue to limit both competition and innovation.

Tomer Chasid
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I dunno, i think it will fail to appreciate internal conflicts and tend to simplify human emotions. I'm not convinced that this will considerably provide insight.

Alexander Bruce
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Next thing you know, Games will contain Laughing Tracks so that players know when to laugh, much like sitcoms.

"What they said wasn't funny, but the canned laughter is going off, so it must have been a ripper, and I just didn't get it!"

Jade A
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Why is the guy in the television set about to get his ass fondled with a foot machine?


Nicolas Casanova
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The image on the tv made my day!!! Don't think this is going to happen, I'm really exceptic on this "emotion sensing" technologies from microsoft and sony. It's like that Tetris game with a pulse reader, did it added something extra to the gaming experience?