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Sony Computer Entertainment America Files 'Laugh Detector' Patent

Sony Computer Entertainment America recently filed a patent for a "laugh detector" and a system for tracking emotions, which could be applied to TV and film viewing, as well as video games.
As new types of input devices change the way we interact with our video games, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a patent that would track users' laughter and emotional output when playing a video game or watching other types of media. Published in the European Patent Office on August 6, and unearthed by Siliconera, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a patent for a "laugh detector and system and method for tracking an emotional response to a media presentation." In short, it's a system that "...asks and answers such questions as: What makes people happy? What makes them laugh? What do they find interesting? Boring? Exciting?" according to the filing. The system would collect a user's emotional output -- such as laughter, a smile, or a yawn -- via a microphone and/or a camera, for example. The feedback would then be tied to metadata "at a time reference level in the media presentation," in order to track the kind of response a player or viewer would elicit at a specific point in a presentation. The patent also said the system could implement a 3D camera system, specifically naming the ZCam by 3DV, which has since been purchased by Sony rival Microsoft. A 3D camera in the emotion tracking system would recognize the shape of an individual's head and use that as a reference point for detecting facial expressions, the patent said. It could also sense multiple individuals, for example, giving each other a high five. While the patent's title indicates that the invention is a laugh detector, the filing goes on to say that the invention would ideally be able to sense other emotions, such as sadness, excitement, anger, boredom, and so on. Emotions from a wide group could be tracked via a network as well. The patent doesn't go into specifics beyond what the system would do beyond tracking users' emotions, but one could imagine how future games might evolve in real-time in order to accommodate, or even exploit, a users' electronically-perceived emotions. Below is an image from the patent filing: hahahabig.jpg

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