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Sony Explores Virtual “Bubble” Tech to Combat VR Cyberbullying

Sony is seemingly prioritizing accessibility and user protection within the gaming VR space

A recently published patent by the company outlines a potential solution to cyberbullying in virtual environments.

Titled “Systems and Methods of Protecting Personal Space in Multi-User Virtual Environment,” the patent acknowledges the unique immersion VR offers compared to traditional gaming.

However, it highlights the potential double-edged nature of this immersion, where users are vulnerable to harassment.

The proposed solution involves creating a virtual “bubble” or hemisphere around a player’s avatar. Said bubble would enforce a set distance between the player and other avatars. This will allow certain rules to be exercised within the determined area.

For instance, friends might be granted access to the space, while others remain excluded. The patent also explores the possibility of an AI system that determines who can enter the area based on player interactions.

Sony acknowledges the limitations of current anti-cyberbullying measures within VR games, which often rely solely on user reporting and recorded evidence. The patent argues that these methods are insufficient to address the issue. Relying on any user action or a process with high lag time isn’t an effective solution.

Diagram depicting how Sony aims to safeguard a player's space in VR.
Diagram depicting how Sony aims to safeguard a player’s space in VR.

The protective bubble could extend beyond physical boundaries, potentially blocking sounds emitted by other players within the perimeter. This could create a safer and less stimulating environment for players experiencing harassment.

It’s not the first time Sony has explored accessibility-focused patents. Past filings have gone over methods for incorporating modern accessibility features into older games. If they come to fruition, it would have a positive impact on the gaming industry.

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Founder of The Gaming Hounds. I've been a fan of gaming ever since my first console—The NES. I love a multitude of video game genres, with a higher affinity for RPGs. My goal is to create increased standards in the gaming journalism industry.

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