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Sony shows off research on next-gen finger-tracked VR controllers

Past patents have suggested that Sony is working on finger-tracking for a new VR motion controller, possibly the PlayStation Move 2, to be paired with an unannounced PSVR 2 headset. Now a new video from Sony researchers gives us a much more solid look at that work.

The video accompanies a new research paper titled “Evaluation of Machine Learning Techniques for Hand Pose Estimation on Handheld Device with Proximity Sensor.” Crucially, the work is authored by Kazuyuki Arimatsu and Hideki Mori from Sony Interactive Entertainment. That’s the division of Sony specifically responsible for the PlayStation brand, and not the wider corp, so this could well be the basis for Sony next-gen PlayStation Move 2 VR controllers.

What we can see is a prototype for a controller similar to Valve’s Index Controllers in terms of functionality. Sensors in the controller are able to tell when a user is gripping the device with all their fingers and when they lift individual fingers away. The movement is imitated in a virtual representation of the hand, allowing for deeper hand presence in VR. As the video states, this technique doesn’t use any external vision to track the position of fingers as seen in the controller-free solution on Oculus Quest.

Later on in the video we also see the controller put to the test with a simulated sweaty hand and with hands fitted with rings and watches. The results are impressive.

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While nothing’s confirmed yet, it’s looking more and more possible that finger tracking becomes a major feature of Sony’s next-generation motion controllers for a possible PSVR 2. We do know that Sony is prototyping new headsets and we also know that its next-generation console, the PS5, will support the original PSVR headset. A true successor seems likely, and a new pair of controllers to accompany it is also likely to happen.

If these really are Sony’s next-gen VR controllers, expect to see a strap somewhere on the final device to help you hold them, much like the original patent showed. A year ago, the company also licensed advanced haptics for VR controllers. Not only that, but advanced haptics and trigger resistance already feature on the new DualSense controller for PS5. Lots of threads to follow here.

That said, don’t expect to see any of this work as a commercial product this year. Sony itself has warned that it’s not likely to release PSVR 2 alongside PS5. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer, though. For now, check out everything we know about PSVR 2.

This story originally appeared on Uploadvr.com. Copyright 2020

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