A recently-published patent filing by Sony shows an asymmetric VR mechanic that would allow a spectating audience to participate and influence in a VR experience.
The patent application is available to view of the United States Patent and Trademark Office site, and describes an experience in which audience participation includes “augmenting the VR scene based on the spectator inputs in response to the interactive content of the audience participation content.”
The text is accompanied by a diagram that explains the idea a little better:
As you can see, one user will be inside VR while the other audience members can influence the VR experience by voting on a particular topic or choice. In the diagram, the example shows the choice of a sword, creature or soup ladle on the TV screen. The audience members then hold up an object to the camera to indicate their vote, and that influences what the VR user is given in-game.
This concept of asymmetric VR — with one user inside VR and others participating in the real world — isn’t new. However, the voting method in the patent does look unusual. The audience is clearly holding some object up to vote, read by the camera mounted on top of the TV, and looks like either a phone or some kind of physical voting card. It seems unlikely that the current generation PlayStation camera would be able to accurately read multiple phone screens at once, so perhaps the patent is aimed at unannounced and refreshed PSVR 2 hardware?
As always though, patents should be taken with a big heap of salt — many often never come to fruition and are filed just in case they want to use the idea in the future. If you want more info on any upcoming PSVR hardware refreshes, be sure to check out everything we know about PSVR 2.