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Rösti
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(01-16-2014, 05:38 PM)
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On the 13th of September, 2013, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. filed a patent through the USPTO for an input apparatus ("controller") using connectable blocks. It was published today, the 16th of January, 2014. As almost always, it's fairly complex and probably require a collective effort to understand what it exactly is about. But as far as I can understand, it's a modular controller controller using connective blocks and can be assembled by a user, in various ways, for use in a video game. I've included more text than usual this time around, but you get a pretty good understand by just looking at the images (scroll down) if you don't feel like reading the whole thing. The patent text anyway (excerpts):

Abstract

A block tool, which can be assembled by a user, is configured with multiple types of blocks and is shot by a camera for capturing a still image or a moving image. The position coordinates of a marker of the square-pillar block in a three-dimensional space are obtained by image recognition. Also, a connecting position and the type of each block, a gradient vector of the square-pillar block, an angle between two blocks constituting the square-pillar block, and the respective blocks' lengths are obtained so as to derive the shape, posture, and position of the block tool, and corresponding information processing is then performed.

Claims

1. An input apparatus configured with a plurality of blocks connectable to each other, at least one of the plurality of blocks comprising at least one of: a position acquisition unit provided with a mechanism to acquire a position in a three-dimensional space; a connecting part identification unit configured to acquire a position to which another block is connected; a sensor measurement acquisition unit configured to acquire a measurement of an embedded sensor; an inclination identification unit configured to acquire an inclination; and an information transmitting unit configured to transmit information acquired internally to an information processor that uses a signal from the input apparatus as an input value to perform information processing in accordance with the position, posture, and shape of the input apparatus.

7. An information processing system comprising an input apparatus configured with a plurality of blocks connectable to each other and an information processor configured to perform information processing on the basis of an input signal from the input apparatus, at least one of the plurality of blocks in the input apparatus including at least one of: a position acquisition unit provided with a mechanism to acquire a position in a three-dimensional space; a connecting part identification unit configured to acquire a position to which another block is connected; a sensor measurement acquisition unit configured to acquire a measurement of an embedded sensor; an inclination identification unit configured to acquire an inclination; and an information transmitting unit configured to transmit information acquired internally to the information processor, the information processor including: a structural analysis unit configured to calculate a position, posture, and shape of the input apparatus in a three-dimensional space on the basis of information transmitted from the input apparatus; and an information processing unit configured to perform information processing in accordance with a result calculated by the structural analysis unit.

Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to an information processing technique using an object in a real space.

[0004] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0005] There has been conventionally used, in a variety of fields, a technique of measuring a parameter related to an object, such as a human or substance, in a real space using some means, and using the parameter as an input value for a computer so as to perform analysis or display an image. In the field of computer games, motion of a user or of a marker held by a user is acquired and a character in a virtual world within a display screen is made to move according thereto, for example, thereby realizing intuitive and easy operation (see WO 2007/050885 A2, for example). Such a technique of reflecting in the screen display a change in the motion or shape of an object in a real space is expected to be applied to toys or learning materials besides games (see Michael Philetus Weller, Ellen Yi-Luen Do, Mark D Gross, "Posey: Instrumenting a Poseable Hub and Strut Construction Toy," Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction, 2008, pp 39-46, for example).

[0006] In order to create the realism of the scenes and enable intuitive operation in the aforementioned case where an operation on an object is used as an input value to perform information processing, it is important to provide perceived affordance. For example, there may be provided an apparatus that resembles the shape of a real object, such as a steering wheel or a pistol, and is operable in a similar way, but the uses of the apparatus are limited. If the shape of such an apparatus is made variable, the range of the uses will be expanded, but some ingenuity need be exercised to measure a change in the shape or motion of the apparatus.

[0007] In the technique disclosed in the document of Weller et. al, for example, an infrared LED and a photo sensor for receiving light from the LED are embedded in a joint part of a component, so as to measure the rotation angle of the component and identify the shape. In this case, the measurable rotation angles are limited and so is the variable range of the shape. Also, since every part need be provided with such devices, manufacturing cost will be increased. In this way, if the form of the apparatus provided as an input means is made more flexible, the mechanism for measuring the form will be more complicated; as a result, manufacturing cost or processing cost tends to be increased.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The present invention has been made in view of such a problem, and a purpose thereof is to provide an input means applicable for a variety of uses at low cost.

[0011] One aspect of the present invention relates to an input apparatus. The input apparatus is configured with a plurality of blocks connectable to each other, and at least one of the plurality of: blocks comprises at least one of a position acquisition unit provided with a mechanism to acquire a position in a three-dimensional space; a connecting part identification unit configured to acquire a position to which another block is connected; a sensor measurement acquisition unit configured to acquire a measurement of an embedded sensor; an inclination identification unit configured to acquire an inclination; and an information transmitting unit configured to transmit information acquired internally to an information processor that uses a signal from the input apparatus as an input value to perform information processing in accordance with the position, posture, and shape of the input apparatus.

[0012] The "embedded sensor" is a sensor embedded in a block to measure a change in the block, such as an angle sensor or a pressure sensor, and a physical quantity measured by the sensor is not particularly limited.

[0013] Another aspect of the present invention relates to an information processing system. The information processing system comprises an input apparatus configured with a plurality of blocks connectable to each other and an information processor configured to perform information processing on the basis of an input signal from the input apparatus. At least one of the plurality of blocks in the input apparatus comprises at least one of a position acquisition unit provided with a mechanism to acquire a position in a three-dimensional space, a connecting part identification unit configured to acquire a position to which another block is connected, a sensor measurement acquisition unit configured to acquire a measurement of an embedded sensor, an inclination identification unit configured to acquire an inclination, and an information transmitting unit configured to transmit information acquired internally to the information processor. The information processor comprises: a structural analysis unit configured to calculate a position, posture, and shape of the input apparatus in a three-dimensional space on the basis of information transmitted from the input apparatus; and an information processing unit configured to perform information processing in accordance with a result calculated by the structural analysis unit.

[0014] Yet another aspect of the present invention relates to an information processor. The information processor comprises: a block information receiving unit configured to receive, from an input apparatus formed by connecting blocks prepared separately, information on a connecting part of a block, the type of a connected block, a measurement of a sensor embedded in a block, and an inclination of a block and to acquire a position of a block in a three-dimensional space; a structural analysis unit configured to calculate a position, posture, and shape of the input apparatus in a three-dimensional space on the basis of information acquired by the block information receiving unit; and an information processing unit configured to perform information processing in accordance with a result calculated by the structural analysis unit.

[0015] Still yet another aspect of the present invention relates to an information processing method. The information processing method comprises processes performed by an information processor of: receiving, from an input apparatus formed by connecting blocks prepared separately, information on a connecting part of a block, the type of a connected block, and an inclination of a block; acquiring a position of a block in a three-dimensional space; calculating a position and shape of the input apparatus in a three-dimensional space on the basis of information received in the process of receiving and information acquired in the process of acquiring; performing information processing in accordance with a calculated result; and displaying a result of information processing on a display apparatus.

[0016] Optional combinations of the aforementioned constituting elements, and implementations of the invention in the form of methods, apparatuses, systems, computer programs, and recording media storing computer programs may also be practiced as additional modes of the present invention.

Source: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-P...tertainment%22

If link doesn't work, search for Document Number "20140015813" via the USPTO Patent Application Full-Text and Image Database (AppFT).

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BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017]Embodiments will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings which are meant to be exemplary, not limiting, and wherein like elements are numbered alike in several Figures, in which:

[0018] FIG. 1 is a diagram that shows an illustrative outline view of a block tool according to the present embodiment;

[0019] FIG. 2 is a diagram that shows an example of a block tool assembled in the present embodiment;

[0020] FIG. 3 is a diagram that schematically shows the central axis of a block tool derived in the present embodiment;

[0021] FIG. 4 is a diagram that shows an illustrative configuration of an information processing system to which the present embodiment is applicable;

[0022] FIG. 5 is a diagram that schematically shows an illustrative internal configuration of each block included in a block tool according to the present embodiment;

[0023] FIG. 6 is a diagram that shows detailed configurations of a block tool and an information processor in the present embodiment;

[0024] FIG. 7 is a diagram that schematically shows an example of information transmission paths and pieces of information transmitted in a block tool according to the present embodiment;

[0025] FIG. 8 is a diagram that shows an illustrative configuration of data stored in a block information storage unit of an information processor according to the present embodiment;

[0026] FIG. 9 is a flowchart that shows a procedure for performing information processing according to the assembly or motion of a block tool in the present embodiment;

[0027] FIG. 10 is a diagram that shows an example of transitions of a block tool and a display screen in the present embodiment;

[0028] FIG. 11 is a diagram that shows another example of transitions of a block tool and a display screen in the present embodiment;

[0029] FIG. 12 is a flowchart that shows a procedure for creating a shape or motion of an object using a block tool in the present embodiment;

[0030] FIG. 13 is a diagram that shows an example of transitions of a block tool with which a state of an object is registered and a screen displayed using the block tool in the present embodiment; and

[0031] FIG. 14 is a diagram that shows an example of transitions of a block tool with which an object is created using two blocks and a screen displayed upon registration in the present embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION (Excerpts)

[0095] If the background within a screen is set to a real world captured by the camera 122, augmented reality (AR), in which a virtual object is incorporated into a real world, can be implemented. In this case, if the camera 122 is attached to the user, the images of blocks being assembled and changed into an object captured from the user's viewpoint can also be displayed. When AR is implemented using blocks, since the real blocks form a virtual object, the interaction between the virtual object and an object in the real world can be expressed within the display screen. For example, when a book on the desk is pushed over by the block tool, a virtual object within the screen moves in the same way, so that the real book on the desk being pushed over can also be displayed.

[0096] FIG. 11 shows another example of transitions of a block tool and a display screen. The way of illustrating is the same as shown in FIG. 10. The block tool 228a in the first state is formed by an L-shaped block tool, in which two square-pillar blocks arranged one above the other make a right angle. The angle made by the upper and lower blocks is variable, and the angle is measured by an angle sensor. If such an L shape is registered in the registered shape storage unit 26 and related to an object model of a pistol therein, a pistol 260 will be displayed on the screen as shown on the display screen 230a.

[0097] As with the case of FIG. 10, if a user holds and moves the lower block of the block tool 228a, the direction or position of the pistol 260 on the display screen 230a can be changed. Although only the pistol 260 appears within the display screen 230a, if the technique of operating a character within the screen according to the motion of the user's body is used together, a game in which the character fights against an enemy with the pistol 260 as a weapon can be implemented, for example.

[0098] In the block tool 228b in the second state, another square-pillar block is connected to the upper block of the block tool 228a in the first state so as to extend downward. If such a shape is registered besides the shape of the block tool 228a in the first state and related to an object model of a machine gun, the object within the screen will change from the pistol 260 to a machine gun 262 at the time when the another block is connected (the display screen 230b). Conversely, if the another block is detached and the block tool is returned to the block tool 228a in the first state, the object within the screen will also return from the machine gun 262 to the pistol 260 (the display screen 230a).

[0099] In the block tool 228c in the third state, the bend angle made by the two blocks in the block tool 228a in the first state, i.e., the right angle, is eliminated, so that the block tool forms a straight rod-like shape. If such a shape is registered besides the shape of the block tool 228a in the first state and related to an object model of a sword, the object within the screen will change from the pistol 260 to a sword 264 at the time when the bend angle is eliminated (the display screen 230c).

[0100] With such configurations, even if the content is the same, variations can be provided in the object model within the screen operated by a user by changing the shape of the block tool. Also, using the characteristic of the variable shape of the block tool, if a registered shape of the block tool is made closer to the shape of an object model related thereto, the situation can be made more realistic and intuitive operation is enabled. Further, by providing an embodiment in which the addition of more blocks can cause emergence of a more powerful weapon or a more attractive character in a virtual world, the collection or assembly of the blocks can also be made amusing.