Microsoft files patent for Virtual Reality Floor Mat, hinting at VR support for the next Xbox console

Microsoft files patent for Virtual Reality Floor Mat, hinting at VR support for the next Xbox console

Sameer Mitha | 07 Oct 2019
HIGHLIGHTS

Microsoft has filed a patent for a virtual reality floor mat activity region.

The image shows a living room setup with a console and a Kinect like camera along with a person wearing a VR headset.

The mat is said to have one or more vibration devices, possible to enhance the gaming experience.

Microsoft has filed for a patent application for a dedicated floor mat. This is no ordinary mat, though. It is to be used with a VR headset. One would assume that this is to prevent the user from bumping into any obstacles in their path, but there is more to this mat than simply chalking out a safe zone. Even though we have seen third party floor mats to define VR zones, headsets like the mixed reality headsets let users define the gaming zone when setting up the headset. If you move furniture around, you can simply go to the mixed reality app for Windows and reconfigure the zone. Since the mixed reality headset is developed by Microsoft, it only makes sense that the patient takes the tech in the mat up a notch. The mat does have “fiducial markers” eliminating the need to manually map the usable area. 

Another interesting thing to note is that the mat is pressure-sensitive, “wherein the floor mat includes a plurality of spatially distributed pressure sensors integrated into the floor mat to detect a physical pressure applied to an activity surface of the floor mat; and wherein the positioning of the physical subject is identified based, at least in part, on pressure data received from at least one pressure sensor of the plurality of pressure sensors”. Put simply, this means that the mat is pressure sensitive and can map the location of the person on the mat based on where he is standing i.e., applying pressure. 

In addition to being pressure sensitive, the mat can also vibrate. The filed patent goes on to highlight that “the floor mat includes one or more vibration devices integrated into the floor mat to generate vibration at the floor mat; and wherein the virtual reality experience is augmented by generating vibration at the floor mat via at least one vibration device of the one or more vibration devices”. This means that if there is an explosion in-game or you are attacked from a specific angle, the floor mat will vibrate to add to the immersion in the game. 

The patent highlights a lot of other details of the mat, but we have covered most of the important ones above. It is interesting to see Microsoft delve back into the VR world. Sure, they have the mixed reality platform and even though there were hints of VR support on the Xbox One, Microsoft didn't follow through. It is possible that with the power under the hood of the upcoming Xbox console codenamed project Scarlett, it is possible that Microsoft is considering a VR accessory. Sony has seen some degree of success with the PlayStation VR and it is suggested that the PSVR headset will be compatible with the upcoming PS5. It is also speculated that Sony is working on a successor to the PSVR system but that will release a few years later

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