An article on the New Scientist website has uncovered details of a new high-tech patent filed by Sony which appears to have important, if much longer-term applications for video game hardware.
The patent describes electronic devices made from a flexible polymer containing conductive rubber bracing struts. filled with a gel of aluminosilicate particles suspended in silicone oil. Once a current is passed through the struts, the particles move together and harden, making the object solid. The patent indicates that the process requires relatively little power, and is so not prohibitive to battery use and takes only milliseconds to harden.
The idea is a staple of science fiction and has been used in various movies and other media – most recently in the film Batman Begins, where the main character’s cape becomes a rigid hang glider like surface on the application of an electric current.
Although the Sony patent, which can be examined in full at the United States Patent Office website, does not make specific mention of the device’s application for a possible follow-up to the PSP, it does specifically describe the technology’s use with a game controller.
A scenario is described where a user touches a “control section” of the controller with their fingers and the feeling of touch is controlled by the device. The example is given of a player being defeated in a fighting game, after which the controller becomes soft to “ improve the realistic sensations in the game”.