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Sony patents for head-mounted display tech surface

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Sony filed two patents this past May, both regarding head-mounted displays that could support virtual reality, that were published this week on Free Patents Online and uncovered by a NeoGAF user.

One patent concerns an audio system for a head-mounted display. The filing posits that a user of such a headset might be wearing noise-canceling headphones, in which case the person would be isolated from hazards in their surroundings. The patent covers technology that would detect sounds characteristic of a set of hazards — such as "alarm sounders such as fire alarm sounders, doorbells, other people wishing to gain the user's attention, crying babies and so on" — and pass on those particular noises through to the user.

The other patent covers image stabilization technology for a headset. The technology would detect "relatively small, higher frequency movements" such as the wobble of a head, and move the image on the screen in the opposite direction to compensate for the movement. It sounds similar to the way optical image stabilization works in a camera lens.

Both patents list two Sony Computer Entertainment Europe employees, Simon Benson and Ian Bickerstaff, as the inventors. Benson and Bickerstaff previously worked at MotorStorm developer Evolution Studios, and both have experience with stereoscopic 3D technology.

Sony currently manufactures head-mounted displays that display movies, games and other content in 3D, such as the recently announced HMZ-T3. The company hasn't yet gotten into the virtual reality market with something akin to the Oculus Rift; reports this past September that Sony was planning to announce such a device at the 2013 Tokyo Game Show were later retracted.

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