God bless the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. While the archaic system of idea protection might indeed stifle creativity and lead to what some call "legalized extortion," its publicly accessible patent filings give us some of the best early glimpses into the internal plans of some highly secretive companies.
The latest bit of insider information comes from a Sony patent filed for "an input device providing users with a pointing capability [which] includes a sender portion and a receiver portion." According to the patent, filed way back in May 2005, a user-operated unit sends a beam of light to one or more receiver units, which interpret the input as a "target point" on the screen.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this sounds a lot like the remote and sensor bar combo used in a competing video game system, but there's nothing in the patent limiting the device to just the PS3. In fact, the patent explicitly states the pointer should be easily integrated with "televisions, DVD players and recorders, digital or personal video recorders, cable and satellite set-top boxes, and video game consoles." A universal remote/pointer? An intriguing idea, but one that sounds hard to implement.
Which isn't to say Sony is necessarily planning on implementing it at all. Just because a patent has been filed doesn't mean a product is pending -- indeed, there hasn't been a public peep on the subject from Sony since the patent was filed months ago. Still, don't be surprised if and when you hear about Sony's revolutionary new control device.
Previously: WIPO patent on similar Sony tech.
[Via Digg, MaxConsole]