Sony Patents Glasses for Use in VR Headsets

(Image credit: Sony/USPTO)

VR is becoming increasingly popular. But among its many obstacles to going truly mainstream is the fact that a lot of people wear glasses. Those people can wear both at the same time (some VR headsets accommodate this better than others), take off their glasses whenever they want to go into VR or leave alternate realities to their better-sighted peers. Luckily, a new patent suggests that Sony wants to save the bespectacled masses from this uncomfortable truth.

The patent was filed in December 2017, published on April 4 and discovered by UploadVR today. It describes a pair of glasses that can take prescription lenses and fit inside a VR headset without crushing the wearer’s nose. The glasses would also use eye-tracking sensors to gather “gaze information of the user in order to improve quality of content provided for rendering on the head mounted display,” according to the patent.

We assume that Sony is describing foveated rendering, which effectively diverts resources from the periphery of the user’s vision to whatever is in the center of their field of view. That way, people can get quality graphics with a less (but still) powerful PC. Or, in the case of PlayStation VR (PSVR), with the limited power of consoles. If only PSVR supported foveated rendering... maybe the glasses are a clue that Sony plans to support the feature in the future.

If that is the case, we suspect the glasses might block whatever eye-tracking tech is built into the headset proper, or at least that they reduce its effectiveness. UploadVR speculated that Sony could enable foveated rendering on the PSVR, but that platform is 2.5 years old at this point. It would make more sense for Sony to release a followup than to upgrade this headset with a pair of prescription glasses.

There’s also the possibility that Sony doesn’t actually do anything with this patent. Many companies file patents for technologies before they even know if they want to use them in a product, just to make sure they aren’t burned if someone else has the same idea in the interim. Patent licensing—and trolling—is also a perfectly viable business, which doesn’t have the same costs as offering a physical product.

No matter what Sony has planned, at least it’s clear that someone is looking out for the glasses-wearing folks like us, who quite literally can’t look out for ourselves. Who says we shouldn’t be able to experience VR in comfort just because we can’t see this reality particularly well without some help?

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.