Sony fires barrage of touchscreen patent applications, only one points at new PSP

Lawyers for Sony Computer Entertainment America must have been mighty busy last October, hatching the wild scheme that came to light this week -- a series of eight intertwining patent applications all describing a single device with an intriguing touchscreen interface. Though it's hard to tell what form the final device might take -- the apps suggest sliders, clamshells and slates -- a few distinct ideas bubble to the surface, and we'll knock them out one by one. First, the inventors seem to be rather particular about having a touchpad that's separate from the main screen -- perhaps even on its back like the rumored PSP2 -- and Sony's trying to patent a way to manipulate objects through the screen as well. Second, there's a lot of mumbo-jumbo about being able to "enhance" or "transform" the user interface in response to different forms of input, which seems to boil down to this: Sony's trying to get some multitouch up in there, especially pinch-to-zoom.

Last but not least, the company's looking to cordon off a section of touchscreen buttons, including a 'paste' command, and patent a "prediction engine" that would dynamically change the onscreen layout based on your past behavior. If most of these ideas sound more at home in a new tablet computer rather than a gaming handheld, then great minds think alike. Still, SCEA is Sony's gaming division -- forlorn Linux computing aside -- so consider us stumped for now.