Last week, almost all tech headlines were about Microsoft and its new Surface catalogue for 2019 and beyond. Consumers got a look of all the good things coming to the hardware lineup soon. Moreover, the highly-anticipated folding devices finally took the stage in the form of the Surface Neo and Surface Duo – the latter of which runs on Android instead of Windows. While the public is still processing everything from that showcase, an intriguing piece of news is hinting at something exciting. A recent patent application from the company reveals that a new VR mat system for the Xbox might be on the way.
Although others could speculate it to be an accessory for Microsoft's HoloLens AR platform, an illustration included in the document suggests otherwise. Moreover, the image implies a gaming or entertainment scenario based on multiple elements in the picture. Still, this does not completely rule out the potential commercial applications. The papers likewise support the ongoing rumours about a virtual reality feature for the Xbox.
According to Variety, the technology listed in the patent document provides an insight as to how the technology will function. The product appears to be a modular mat designed for Virtual Reality applications. Details about it show how it might come with pressure sensors, fiducial markers, and vibration motors. Gamers could be looking at an accessory that can detect their position, produce haptic feedback, and keep them within the designated play area.
Additionally, the patent also notes that it will come in the form of interlocking tiles. This apparently allows consumers to customise it to fit the space available. Microsoft understands that VR gameplay requires players to move around. In a typical scenario, this includes motions using the hands with the aid of controllers to interact with objects in the game. In some rare cases, advanced tracking systems can even detect the user's location relative to the in-game map.
As it stands right now, the concept seems impressive and should reduce injuries sustained from bumping into objects while playing. The likelihood of the VR mat being an Xbox peripheral look almost certain judging by what the document illustrates. What looks like a Kinect sensor is on top of the TV, while a game system sits just beside the latter. Microsoft's upcoming Xbox Scarlett could introduce the VR mat as an optional accessory for its new feature.