Sony files patent application for Kinect-like device for PlayStation

Illustration from the patent application showing how virtual objects could be inserted int...A recently published patent application indicates that Sony may be working on a Kinect-like 3D depth-sensing device for PlayStation. If Sony follows through with development of such a device, it will no doubt be looking to make up some ground lost to Microsoft, whose release of the Kinect in November 2010, overshadowed the release of Sony’s PlayStation Move just a month earlier.

Like the Kinect, Sony’s patent application for a “User driven three-dimensional gaming environment,” involves the use of a 3D depth sensing camera to allow users to interact with virtual objects on a screen in a 3D space. The patent application also mentions visually altering the onscreen appearance of real world physical objects – mapping of virtual clothing to the user, for example.

With the current PlayStation Eye sporting only a standard video camera, Sony will have to produce a new peripheral capable of obtaining distance or depth information. The application lists infrared or stereo cameras as possible technologies to accomplish this.

Seems like Sony is a bit late, (again)!

Sony to buy Sony Ericsson, turn into subsidiary

Sony buys out Ericsson partnership –


Sony’s new products doomed to mediocrity (so say MSNBC)

By Wilson Rothman (at gadgetbox at MSNBC)

Sony just revealed a flank of products intended to help the beleaguered brand retake the personal electronics world. The trouble is, it all adds up to a pretty weak play. Let’s take it bit by bit:

Tablets: As MSNBC Suzanne Choney reported, the awaited Sony Tablet S and weirdly foldable Tablet P were unveiled Wednesday. Many immediately noted that the S has specs and pricing similar to Apple’s hit iPad. The tablets run the Android Honeycomb tablet operating system, meaning that while they won’t suffer the isolation of HP’s TouchPad or RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, they must contend with the throng of competitors — some of whom are already engaging in a price war.

Sony Tablet S

Some say Sony was late to the party on Android tablets; I don’t think that’s the case. Right at this moment, it’s actually a terrible time for anybody except Apple (and perhaps Amazon) to enter the tablet market.

Sony sent pre-production units of the Tablet S to reviewers. Our friends at Laptop seemed dismayed by the fact that the tablet “isn’t finished.” They mentioned that there’s still a lot to learn about the books, music and movie media service, not to mention the PlayStation-branded gaming, all of which have yet to be launched. Gizmodo’s verdict was equally reluctant — they criticized the iPad-level pricing, saying “the build quality doesn’t seem up to snuff” and the speed of software running on it was “a mixed bag.”

Whoever decided early reviews were a good idea seems not to have paid much attention to the tablet business lately. These may very well end up in the $99 discount bin — but only if they’re lucky.

Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

Smartphones: This smartphone business has been tricky for joint venture Sony Ericsson, especially as it balances its own Xperia flavor with the larger Android movement. The trick is to not stick out so bad people complain, but to not get lost in the shuffle either. The Sony Ericsson Arc S is a powerful phone that bucks the trend with a 1.4 GHz single core processor (most phones are going with 1 GHz and 1.2 GHz dual-core processors). Its got a healthy 4.2-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera — all top specs. It even has the Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited cloud media services that Sony will be using to try to compete with Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and the rest of those big dogs.

But where’s the PlayStation? Seriously, Sony, if you don’t understand that PlayStation is your best bet at differentiation, something’s wrong. Every Sony Ericsson smartphone from now on should have a PlayStation hub, and certainly any smartphone with a crazy hot processor. How is that not obvious?

Sony Reader Wi-Fi

E-readers: For the company that basically created the category of e-ink e-book reader, Sony has really lacked a competitive edge. With the newly announced Reader Wi-Fi, it’s got something that hits the sweet spot of consumer demand — 6-inch e-ink touchscreen, Wi-Fi-only networking.

Still, it is coming in with a price tag that’s $10 higher than the bestselling Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. There is a wee bit of hope for Sony, though: It has partnered with J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore e-book service, and will let Reader buyers download the first installment of the Harry Potter series for free “when it becomes available.” At least you know where that extra $10 goes.

Portable media: Just after Sony announced not one but three Walkman music and video players, they teased a fourth — shown here on CNET. It runs Android, can support all kinds of Android apps, and puts the current lineup to shame. Let me say that again: A month after Sony announces its not-yet-shipped portable media players, it shows off their replacement, which is nicer (but still not as nice as an iPod Touch).

Sony is joining the cloud craze by offering its Music Unlimited service for its devices, and I applaud Sony for offering a free half-year of the service to Walkman buyers — assuming any happen along.

Sony HMZ-T1 video goggles

3-D: A final item from Sony’s lineup absolutely leaps out at you: The HMZ-T1 goggles, with tiny high-definition OLED screens for each eye that let you see a massive wall of 3-D TV, even if you’re locked in a coffin. Watching the video on Sony’s press site, I want nothing more than to have this glorious, innovative object. Hands-on reviews have been enthusiastic to say the least, and Gizmodo’s Mat Honan suggests that the goggle format might actually help the many people (like me) who have a hard time enjoying 3-D on screens.

But then I have to shake myself out of my daze. This is a distraction — an $800, probably Japan-only one at that — from the reality that Sony is losing in every battle it’s currently engaged in. It’s behind on TV sales, it has no phone or PC strategy to speak of, it’s behind Apple, Amazon and pretty much everybody else in media distribution, and has yet to make amends for the personal security nightmare it dragged its devoted gamers through this year.

Maybe I’m in a pessimistic mood today, so let’s ask, what would I have liked to have seen in the Sony strategy? For starters, a real media and gaming powerplay: Every new product getting PlayStation certification, and a full line-up of games and services. I’d like to see an entire ecosystem where a single account sets you up with books, movies, music and gaming, with all devices cooperating to the best of their ability.

The hardware is no longer the point, and to hold back on the software and services is bad. But when it comes to the hardware, Sony can do a little bit of housekeeping.

I would like less emphasis on multiple options, like the three MP3 players, and the nonsensically foldy tablet, and more unification of product lines (yes, fanboys and haters alike, a la Apple).

More Cuts at Sony Pictures – This Time 3D Glasses

Sony Pictures issued a heads-up Tuesday to exhibitors and theatergoers: Next summer, its 3D pics will be Bring Your Own Glasses!

So Sir Howard, do the TV glasses work for the theatre?

The studio announced plans to stop subsidizing 3D glasses next May with “Men in Black III” and “The Amazing Spider-Man,” bucking the trend that Disney started in 2005 when it provided them outright for “Chicken Little.”

Exhibitors, already under siege from shrinking theatrical windows, are expected to push back against Sony’s 3D-glasses maneuver, just as they did in 2009 when 20th Century Fox tried to get outof paying for specs for “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” (Forced to relent, Fox ultimately wound up footing the bill.)

But if Sony holds its ground and other studios follow suit, exhibitors will not only have to cover the costs somehow, they’ll also be forced to sort out sales and distribution logistics. Exhibitors may have to follow the standard set overseas, where moviegoers are encouraged to buy their own glasses and reuse them, in some cases paying a lower ticket price upon return visits.

For instance, Dolby controls most of the Japanese 3D market, and in March, the company started offering reusable 3D glasses for $12 per pair. In Europe, RealD sells its reusable glasses at concession stands or the ticket window for about 1 Euro, saving auds the repeated expense.

In any case, the costs will in some way trickle down to theatergoers already wary of 3D surcharges, as evidenced by the steady erosion of 3D market share over this past summer.

The bring-your-own-glasses model poses a logistical headache for U.S. audiences, as varying 3D systems require different eyewear. What’s more, foreign exhibitors don’t pay as much to studios, giving them more flexibility with ticket prices.

Tension over the glasses question has mounted throughout the rise of 3D, as studios have increasingly balked at the cost. At 50¢ to $1 per ticket, eyewear often means millions of dollars in additional distribution costs.

But the news is good news for one facet of the biz: the companies who manufacture custom and high-end 3D glasses.

As of now, RealD controls about 90% of the 3D space in North America and contracts with the majors to provide most of the 3D frames, a dynamic that’s likely to change as auds seek more durable alternatives to the freebies they’re used to getting.

I wonder if the Sony 3D Television glasses work at the theatres?  Is this really a marketing ploy..?


Spiderman now in Action

Aranha set NY

The filming of The Amazing Spider-Man , the new movieSpider-Man , is about to start, now in New York City, after passing through Los Angeles. The team director Marc Webb is already in town preparing for the action sequences that take place in the streets of Manhattan and the bridges over the Hudson River.

Set 25Jan2011 06

Set em Los Angeles 18012011

Men in Black III – Lingering Script Problems Slow Production

Now that Men in Black III is once again filming in New York after an interruption in the already-unconventional schedule due to lingering script problems, we’ve seen a few set photos recently.  These have included the first look at Josh Brolin, who is playing a younger version of Agent K in scenes involving Will Smith‘s Agent J traveling back in time to the 1960’s.  Tommy Lee Jones will again play K in contemporary scenes, but some new set photos from The Brooklyn Paper show some more of Smith, Brolin, and the 60s setting.  Take a peek right here.

On locoation at the old Relish Diner in Williamsburg, VA

The Brooklyn Paper article reasonably concludes that the last image depicts, “funky stand-ins covered with lightbulbs to help create the computer-generated magic.”  That makes sense, but if you remember back to the first Men in Black, there’s an early scene just after J and K meet up with pawnbroker Jeebs (Tony Shaloub), when a pair of pair of people adorned in black outfits and lightbulbs quickly ride by on a tandem bicycle.  Given the specificity of that moment, I’d say we’ll see those two in the new film as they appear in the picture.

The film sees the return of franchise director Barry Sonnenfeldwho has not directed a film since 2006’s RV.  Also on board for the film are Rip Torn, Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement, Alice Eve, and Nicole Scherzinger.  Men in Black III is set for May 25, 2012, just about a full decade since Men in Black II.  This new sequel will, of course, hit screens in 3D

Sony PlayStation Network suffering outages – again

This sounds familiar, but it’s true again today. Sony’s PlayStation Network is reportedly down, and many users can’t log in at all.

Earlier this month, the PlayStation Network went down for several hours, reportedly due to work by a hacker group. It’s not clear if that is the same case this time, or if it’s due to maintenance issues. Additionally unfortunate is that Sony hasn’t said anything about when this roadblock might be cleared. On the Official PlayStation blog, it only says:

We’re aware certain functions of PlayStation Network are down. We will report back here as soon as we can with more information.

Until then, users trying to access PSN on a PlayStation 3 and similar devices for the purpose of using online games or apps (i.e. Netflix, Music Unlimited, Hulu Plus, etc.) will be unable to do so.

Have you had trouble accessing the PlayStation Network today?