Most consumer-grade virtual reality set-ups are still pretty pricey, but if we see costs fall and adoption rise, one development is almost certainly guaranteed: advertisements will find their way into VR. A new Sony Interactive Entertainment filing suggests Sony wants to get out ahead of the trend by patenting a technique for showing ads in headsets that appear at the edges of the user's field of vision and that can change based on line-of-sight.
SegmentNext uncovered the patent, which was published through the United States Patent and Trademark Office on June 25. The patent illustrations depict two primary ways that an advertisement could appear to a user in VR: either as a banner image along the top edge of the headset's screens, or as a kind of continuous ring around the outer edges of the field of view.
The patent also describes an information processing method for determining the "direction of a light of sight of a user wearing the HMD," which would then change "the manner in which an image of additional content is displayed[.]" The example given here also imagines this "additional content" as being an advertisement. Still, in theory, such a technique could also be used to change up the content of any sort of message or image displayed in a headset, advertisement or no.
While the patent diagrams depict a PSVR headset used in concert with what appears to be a DualShock controller, it's worth noting that this is neither guaranteed for the future of Sony's current-gen VR platform nor would it necessarily be limited just to PSVR products. The filing also proposes the same techniques could be used in augmented reality solutions.
We know Sony is still committed to exploring the VR space beyond what it has achieved so far with PSVR on the PS4. Last year, Sony's VP of Research and Development Dominic Mallinson talked about some must-have features for next-gen VR (including eye-tracking and increased field-of-view, relevant to this new patent). Earlier in 2020 we also laid eyes on a Sony patent filing for new finger tracking VR controllers. Sony has confirmed that the current version of PSVR will work with the PS5, and later this week, Sony will launch Marvel's Iron Man VR, its big VR exclusive of 2020.