Happy National Video Games Day 2021! To celebrate, I am again combining my main areas of interest in life, patents and video games, to take another look at recent trends in patenting in video game technology.
Trends in patent filing data give a good indication of the areas of technology in which companies are investing. Therefore, with the right patent data, we can predict the future of the video game industry.
This time in 2019, we used patent filing trends to predict that AI would power the future of the video game industry, with wearable sensors and immersive tactile feedback. You can see how my 2019 predictions held up by reading my previous article, here.
I looked at the latest data and pulled out three interesting tech areas with rising ranking trends:
AR / VR controllers integrating cameras and light sensors;
the management and protection of a player base and an online community; and
technology that facilitates esports and video game streaming.
But first, let’s take a look at the overall situation in Europe:
Snapshot 2021: video game patents at the EPO
A63F13 is the primary classification code for video game patents and covers everything from new console controllers to AI-based techniques for automatically generating a VR environment. Definition of “video game patents” such as applications and patents classified under A63F13:
The EPO published 415 video game patent applications in 2020. This represents an increase of 8% compared to 2019.
The EPO granted 245 video game patents in 2020, compared to 235 in 2019.
Data received so far in 2021 implies that these upward trends will continue.
Upward Trend # 1: Video Game Entry Arrangements Using Cameras – A63F 13/213
This technological field relates to “input means” comprising a photodetector, for example cameras and infrared detectors. For example, these photodetectors can be included in a game controller or sensor bar.
VR and AR headsets are fueling the upward trend in this area. Interestingly, operators of theme parks such as Disney and Universal Studios have become big investors in this technology in recent years as they seek to integrate VR and AR into their attractions to provide customers with a more engaging experience. , personalized and immersive.
For example, Disney invest in technology that provides special interactivity based on a commodity or object owned or worn by a player. The application describes the use of computer vision techniques to determine whether, for example, a roller coaster pilot is wearing the “power glove” of a particular superhero. The rider can then interact with a virtual environment during the ride depending on the superhero glove he is wearing.
Does anyone else like the idea of deciding between the powers of Iron Man or Captain Marvel while lining up to blast virtual aliens on a roller coaster?
Universal Studios are also investing in AR and VR techniques to improve the customer experience. An application filed last year concerns hardware and software methods for detecting when a ride helmet has been damaged.
The technique involves using a camera on the back of the helmet, which replaces the player’s eye when the helmet is not worn, to spot image quality issues. By comparing the test images captured by the camera with the main images, smudges, stuck or dead pixels, and incorrect alignment with the actual environment can be quickly identified and the headset can be flagged for repair or replacement.
Theme park operators aren’t the only ones investing in augmented reality and virtual reality. The rumors that surround Apples foray into the mainstream AR / VR headset market have been fueled in part by their patent filings in recent years, including this application which discloses the insertion of real life objects from the user’s environment into a virtual environment when the user gets too close. The idea here is that, if you’re engrossed in blowing up virtual planets and spaceships, you might appreciate a visual head if you’re about to hit your desk or your lamp …
(Off topic, but my favorite numbers from Apple’s recent AR-related apps are in this application, which discloses the use of cameras to monitor a user’s face in order to alter the expression of a extremely friendly looking fish.)
Rising Trend # 2: Managing an Online Community Using Player Data – A63F 13/79
This technological area relates to the general concept of collecting player data to create a player profile, which can then serve as a building block for services and applications aimed at building a social community of players, developing relationships between players and customize games. to individual players.
Video games are the new social media: they are platforms that bring people together. MMO games, for example, allow players to communicate, strategize, and form meaningful friendships. Online gaming has never been so popular, and video game companies use the wealth of available player data to create, manage and sometimes monitor the online community to improve the gaming experience.
Sony interactive entertainment invests in technology that can analyze your historical gaming behavior, as well as that of your online peers, to infer when you might be available to participate in a video game activity. The application discloses the use of AI to make personalized inferences about free times when a user may be interested in participating in a suggested activity.
I love the idea of an AI-powered personal assistant able to suggest and schedule video game sessions for me and my friends. Of course, that will make it even harder to use my willpower to tear myself away from my console …
AT&T have filed a application aimed at detecting and countering suspicious activities in an application environment. The technique involves monitoring how a player responds to stimuli relative to the larger population of players, in order to build a user-specific game “signature”. This signature can then be used to identify instances of fraud and player collusion. In competitive environments, for example, the signature can be used to validate whether the user who is allegedly playing the game is actually the person who is playing the game.
Many developers want to fight against “bad behavior” in the community, and this candidacy of Sony interactive entertainment is a great example.
The app discloses the identification not only of users who actively display abusive or harassing behavior, but also of users who unintentionally negatively impact another player’s experience. There is a really interesting discussion about evaluating various scenarios of a player damaging both an in-game monster and a (presumably innocent?) In-game tree.
The intention of game developers in this area is to provide every user with a satisfying gaming experience and keep players engaged in the game.
Upward Trend # 3: Watch Games Played By Other Players – A63F13 / 86
Esport is booming. The International Olympic Committee discussed their inclusion in future Olympic events and, in April of this year, announced a historic milestone in virtual sports by announcing the very first “Virtual series”.
The continued popularity of esports, along with video game streaming platforms such as Twitch, has led many companies to invest heavily in technology that allows audiences to watch their favorite players.
Several technical problems arise when broadcasting a video game to audiences around the world. For example, recording the screen during the game will increase the power consumption of the terminal. Downloading game videos can interfere with the uplink transmission of the game itself, and large amounts of data must be transmitted and synchronized.
Several requests have been filed in an attempt to resolve these issues in recent years, including this application of Huawei seeking to protect a cloud gaming live streaming method. Audio is recorded on the user’s terminal, while video is generated on the server side. The audio is then recombined with the video before being broadcast via a live broadcast platform. In this way, data transmission is efficient and power consumption is minimized.
Activision has filed an extensive application which describes a platform capable of giving viewers many options when viewing esports, allowing a viewer to switch between visualizations: scenarios automatically determined to be the most entertaining, a point of view associated with a player particularly in the virtual environment, kill-cam replays, as well as a fully personalized position and / or orientation of the camera in the virtual environment.
Loading the next level… what’s next for the games?
For me, video games and related technologies have been of great help in dealing with forced isolation during the pandemic. I used my VR headset to escape to virtual worlds from the safety of my living room and to have “face to face” meetings with colleagues and friends. Networking and keeping in touch with friends in 2020/21 was accomplished through mediums of Mario Kart, Among Us and Worms WMD
The future lies in the technologies that connect us better, whether in a virtual environment, fostering and protecting online gaming communities, or allowing us to watch and interact with other players across the world. world.
If recent world news and events are getting you down, you may need to hear an uplifting vision for the future. In that case, consider this. By combining the three trends above, I expect that in the near future we will all be able to put on our VR headsets (depending on the optimal time scheduled by our AI assistants, of course) and be transported to a safe. and a well-managed virtual environment, fully tailored to our personal preferences and those of our peers, in order to watch the latest esports game with our friends. All in the comfort of our own home.
Is anyone else suddenly a little more optimistic about the future?