Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) of Tokyo, Japan, is a multinational consumer electronics conglomerate with diverse interests in video gaming, motion pictures, consumer electronics and financial services. Recently, Sony announced that it would spend more than $150 million USD (19 billion yen) to acquire the image sensor semiconductor fabrication business established by Japanese rival Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502) In motion picture distribution, Sony Pictures India will return in 2016 to the local distribution of Bollywood movies, an area of business that the company first took on about a decade ago before phasing out Bollywood distribution. The corporation is also making forays into competitive e-sports, announcing that it would work with Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI), the developer of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, to serve as the official platform for the Call of Duty World League, a video gaming league that will have an initial prize pool of $3 million.
Sony has been seeing great success in video gaming sales in recent months and will be doubling down on one of its most successful franchises. A recent PlayStation Experience event in San Francisco saw the reveal of demo footage from the highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake, the top-selling title in the Final Fantasy series. Recent Sony updates to the PlayStation 4 firmware have unlocked an additional processor core on the PS4 for use in game software development, bridging the slight advantage the Xbox One had gained in its ability to process graphics. Fans of backwards compatibility in video gaming consoles will likely be disheartened to hear that PlayStation will make versions of PS2 games available for the PS4, but customers will have to purchase the PS4-enabled version even if they already own the PS2 game. The company is also working on developing a PlayStation VR virtual reality headset that it plans to release commercially by next summer.
Sony is one of the giants of the patenting world and in 2014, it placed 4th among all companies receiving patent grants from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, earning 3,214 U.S. patents that year. This was despite the fact that Sony was only one of two members of the top 10 who received fewer patents in 2014 than it did in 2013. The patent portfolio analysis tools at Innography are showing us that Sony has earned 2,489 U.S. patents so far in 2015, so it’s likely that Sony’s 2015 patent totals will dip again. As the text cluster posted here will show readers, according to 2015 patent data much of Sony’s research and development has focused on processing of information and images, along with control units and solid state imaging.
Sony’s Recently Issued Patents: From Head-Mounted Displays to Realistic Firearm Controllers for Video Games
Sony’s focus on developing head-mounted devices for virtual reality systems has resulted in a couple of recently issued patents we noticed in our recent survey, including U.S. Patent No. 9189829, titled Head Mounted Display, and Image Displaying Method in Head Mounted Display. It claims a head mounted display including an eyeglasses frame mounted to a user’s head, an image sensing device mounted to the frame, a correction section and an image display device having an image generating device and a see-through optical device upon which beams emitted from the image generating device are displayed for the user’s view. The correction section utilized in this invention is designed to account for changes in the spatial relationship between the image sensing device’s optical axis and the image display device which can negatively impact augmented reality technologies. Head-mounted devices capable of taking pictures of the surrounding environment are the focus of U.S. Patent No. 9179057, which is titled Imaging Apparatus and Imaging Method that Acquire Environment Information and Information of a Scene Being Recorded. It protects an imaging apparatus having an imaging device recording images of a scene, a receiver that acquires environment information and information of the scene being recorded and circuitry to start and terminate a recording of images and to control operations of the imaging device based on the collected information; the information can include structure information related to whether pictures are permitted at the structure or a determined season which may affect imaging device operation. This innovation enables a head mounted device to better capture images of an environment without requiring a user to manually input operation parameters for flash and other operation modes.
We took note of an intriguing invention in the field of smart televisions which was at the center of U.S. Patent No. 9198496, entitled Makeup TV. It protects an audio video display device (AVDD) having at least one processor and a computer readable medium storing instructions executable to receive from a camera an image of a display viewer, present the image of the viewer in a display section, present a white background image in a border region adjacent to the picture region to illuminate a viewer and cycle through an ambient light sequence for only the border region so that a first lighting condition is emulated by maintaining a first color temperature setting of the border region for at least a first period of a threshold period and a second color temperature setting of the border region of the border region for a second period of a threshold period to allow a viewer to view himself under multiple ambient light conditions established by respective color temperature settings. This system takes advantage of the ability to precisely meter the ambient light produced by a television display to provide a video makeup display that overcomes shortcomings in conventional makeup mirrors.
Digital wallets are an area of tech development that we’ve been focusing on in recent days here at IPWatchdog and we’re seeing some Sony IP in this sector, as is evidenced by the issue of U.S. Patent No. 9202212, entitled Using Mobile Device to Monitor for Electronic Bank Card Communication. It discloses a CE device having at least one processor, at least one output device controlled by the processor, at least one near-field communication (NFC) receiver providing input to a processor and a computer memory comprising instructions executable by the processor to receive input signals from the NFC receiver, receive an identification from the NFC signals, compare the ID to a test ID of an electronic transaction card and present a user-perceptible alert on the output device that the ID and test ID match. This innovation is intended to reduce the chances that a hacker can make unauthorized purchases with an electronic NFC card which they’ve been able to access with stolen information.
A technology intended to improve the quality of sound played by a vehicle’s audio system is discussed within U.S. Patent No. 9197261, issued under the title Vehicle-Mounted Audio Device and Automobile. It protects a vehicle-mounted audio device having a casing, a tuner disposed in the casing, audio output circuitry for amplifying and outputting an audio signal supplied from the tuner, a housing chamber defined in the casing and having an opening defined in the front panel’s casing, a lock mechanism selectively locking said housing in the housing chamber and a casing connector electrically connected to the audio output circuitry for disengageably connecting to an audio signal output connector of the portable audio device; the housing is configured to accommodate a portable audio device which is physically accessible when the housing is in a certain position. This innovation enables a portable audio device to connect with a portable audio device without taking up space in the limited area of the passenger compartment.
Video game controllers which are capable of providing more realistic gameplay conditions are detailed within U.S. Patent No. 9180365, which is titled Polymorphic Firearm Controller. It discloses a firearm game controller having a plurality of mock firearm actions selected from a group of manual mock firearm actions consisting of a mock bolt action, a mock lever action, a mock break action, a mock pump action and a mock revolver action, an automatic or semiautomatic mock firearm action including an ammunition magazine holder having a detector that detects the presence of a mock ammunition magazine and a weapon mode selector to select a first weapon mode enabling one of the plurality of mock firearm actions or enable an automatic or semiautomatic mock firearm action in response to detecting the presence of a mock ammunition magazine. This innovation is designed to provide a firearm controller for shooting video games which can provide more realistic gun actions like a recoil mechanism or magazine reloading.
Patent Applications of Note: From Video Game Software Delivery to Incentivizing Digital Commerce
We took a closer look at a trio of patent applications filed recently by Sony in the field of video games, including U.S. Patent Application No. 20150314200, filed under the title Creation of Game-Based Scenes. It would protect a method of creating a visualization based on a displayed scene at a specified moment of gameplay which involves displaying at least one game scene, capturing first scene data corresponding to the particular displayed scene triggered by a game or visualization server, sending the captured scene data to the visualization server and sending additional scene data to the visualization server corresponding to a plurality of views of characters and scenery at a second resolution. This innovation results in a richer in-game experience for players in massively multiplayer games when playback of a scene is requested, especially when many players have taken part in the scene. A technology intended to enable inexperienced video game players interact casually with games having a high degree of difficulty would be protected by U.S. Patent Application No. 20150336001, titled Game Device, Game Control Method, Game Control Program, Matching Server, Matching Control Method, and Matching Control Program. It claims a non-transitory computer readable medium containing a game control program executable by a computer to implement receiving an instruction input from a first player and notifying the instruction input to a control section controlling a game, receiving selection of an intervention mode in which game functions controlled by the control section is controlled according to instruction input from a second player and obtaining information necessary to display a game screen from the control section. The game control program invented here allows players to enjoy gameplay with the help of a second, more experienced player. Reductions in time required to deploy software updates to video games are made possible by the improvements outlined within U.S. Patent Application No. 20150321096, which is titled Network Delivery of Entertainment Software. The method for distributing entertainment software claimed here involves providing a data store of entertainment software deliverable in multiple stages, distributing to a client a first stage corresponding to the entertainment software and distributing a second stage including some subset of the entertainment software not included in the first stage. This method for preparing entertainment software increases the speed at which software can be downloaded by splitting the software up into manageable subsets.
We found a number of patent applications filed for improvements to solid-state imaging devices, including the innovation explained by U.S. Patent Application No. 20150334358, entitled Solid-State Imaging Apparatus, Method of Managing Solid-State Imaging Apparatus, and Electronic Apparatus. This discloses an electric apparatus having a signal processing circuitry and an imaging device having a plurality of photoelectric conversion units arranged two-dimensionally, a plurality of on-chip lenses arranged two-dimensionally in correspondence with respective photoelectric conversion units, a micro-lens arranged in correspondence with the on-chip lenses and a transparent material layer pinched between the on-chip lenses and the micro-lens. This new configuration is designed to reduce the occurrence of degraded image quality caused by use environments having a high temperature or high humidity.
More accurate measurements of electrical signals in biological samples is the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20150323480, titled Impedance Measuring Device for Biological Samples and Impedance Measuring System for Biological Samples. This patent application claims an impedance measuring device for biological samples having a plurality of biological sample holding units, an applying unit configured to apply an alternating current (AC) voltage to a pair of electrodes in contact with the biological sample held by the holding unit, a measuring unit that measures an impedance of the biological sample obtained by the applied AC voltage and a measurement condition control unit controlling a measuring time and frequency in the measuring unit. This system is intended to improve the precision of rapid measurements of biological sample impedance when the electrical characteristics of a biological sample need to be assayed.
Readers might be intrigued to take a closer look at the in-store innovation that would be protected by U.S. Patent Application No. 20150310539, entitled In-Store Object Highlighting by a Real World User Interface. It claims an application for causing a computer environment to perform the steps of receiving a file representing an image, causing detection of an object pictured in the image, causing identification of the detected object and either causing light to be projected on the identified object or causing an indicator of the identified object to be rendered on a device display. The innovation is intended to improve upon the shopping experience that can be experienced through a mobile device, including head-mounted displays.
Finally, we wanted to explore an invention in the field of broadcasting advertisements to consumers and described within U.S. Patent Application No. 20150326904, titled Incentivizing Commerce by Regionally Located Broadcast Signal in Conjunction with Automatic Feedback or Filtering. It claims a method for digital commerce in conjunction with a digital broadcast by presenting a commercial message with a display device associated with a digital broadcast receiving device if a predetermined condition detected by either a vehicle sensor or a biometric sensor included in an ancillary device exists, generating response information using ancillary data to determine an effectiveness of the commercial message in generating a response and transmitting the response information if a commercial transaction associated with a commercial message is completed. This invention is designed to incentivize digital commerce in response to a major shift in advertising from broadcast television to digital devices like Internet-enabled televisions.