Through the history of gaming, we've seen a lot of weird accessories and "what the hell?" designs, but this time we might hit some new highs of weirdness.
US Patent & Trademark Office recently published a patent for a "feeling deduction unit 100," by Sony. It essentially represents a small robot companion that sits near you, observes your emotions while you are playing the game and reacts according to your feelings. Alternatively, it can also be a virtual object on the screen: a 3D model of a person, pet, or something else.
"The inventor has focused on the possibility of utilizing a robot as a joint viewing player who experiences sympathy with a user," says in the patent file.
"For example, it is expected that the user's affinity with the robot is increased and motivation for playing a game is enhanced by the robot viewing the gameplay next to the user and being pleased or sad together with the user. Further, regarding not only the game but also a movie, a television program, or the like, it is expected that the user may enjoy content more by viewing the content with the robot as compared to the case of viewing it alone."
The whole patent is based on a premise that people enjoy more in things if they are sharing the experience with someone, and this robot should serve as a surrogate when you don't have someone to watch a movie with or play games together. The document suggests that people will have a better experience if someone is sharing their joy and sadness while they are playing the game, and that's the basic function of the robot - to deduce the feeling of its owner and try to emulate those feelings in order to bound with his owner.
Further in the file, the document also implies that after some time has passed, robot-companion can connect enough with its owner to start suggesting some life-improvements, in the same manner as some friend would do. An example given in the document is to indicate to the owner to go to bed earlier.
The robot is designed to store emotions of both the user and its own, and there are also some various values that will determinate how would robot react based on the data collected, all in an effort to emulate real human social interactions. It can even play the game with you as a co-op partner, or as an opponent.
There're a lot of other technical details in the document, but it does sound quite interesting, almost futuristic at this point, albeit a bit sad, that there's enough of a big market of lonely people that will find their company and happiness in a little robot, designed and programmed by Sony to have empathy for you.