Sony's Interest in Augmented Reality Gaming Expands

Sony's interest in augmented reality gaming shows no signs of fading.

The console company has already brought a number of titles to their console that blend video game graphics with real images streamed from a camera to your television. And the publisher has high hopes for games that will put an interactive, 3D digital pet on people's coffee tables through the PS3 and allow children to capture the invisible animals in their homes with the PSP. But that could be just the beginning.,

"Ten years ago we embarked on a project involving cameras," said Mike Haye, senior director of Sony's London Studios. "The culmination of all of that experience in terms of technology and marketing was augmented reality."

For this holiday, augmented reality for the Playstation means the EyePet and Invizimals.

The EyePet, heading to the Playstation 3, will allow people to care for a virtual pet that appears to be in the room with them with the help of a video camera.

The furry, big-eyed cross between a tiny dog and a monkey, can interact with your hands, real toys and even draw and create its own toys to play with. We were told about a bubble machine, tennis and football sets and a treadmill and singing set. You can also use the card to take the creature to a virtual outdoor setting to fish and garden.

The biggest potential for the EyePet to become a money-maker, it seems, is through the introduction of downloadable clothing and toys, all of which will be sold through the Playstation Store, the developers said.

With Invizimals people will use the PSP and a camera to search their home, yards, anywhere for virtual invisible creatures. Once they are found and captured, they can be used to fight one another, in Pokemon-like battles.

There will be more than 125 of these creatures to capture, finding them will take a bit of exploration and perhaps a knowledge of the creatures. The developers told us that certain creatures like certain colors and times of the day. The creatures are captured in different ways, like by shouting at them, whistling a tune and causing an earthquake by shaking the PSP. There will be more than 30 ways to capture creatures, they said.

While the EyePet is announced as a PS3 title and Invizimals a PSP title, it seems like either could work on either platform.

When I asked if it was possible that the EyePet could come to the PSP as a sort of portable augmented reality space the developers said, "watch this space."

The folks behind Invizimals say that with augmented reality such a broad and relatively untapped genre, they think they could find better fits for the PS3 than their PSP title.

"I think in the future augmented reality is going to explode," an Invizimals developer said. "This is just the beginning."