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PS3 Finally Ready to Rumble? 99

Posted by Zonk
from the for-the-love-of-all-that-is-holy-thank-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sony has finally settled its longstanding legal dispute over infringement of Immersion Corporation's force feedback patents, which reportedly led to Sony's decision to remove rumble technology from the PS3 controller, by agreeing to pay Immersion at least $150.3 million in damages and royalties. The agreement presumably will result in rumble and perhaps other of Immersion's force-feedback technologies being incorporated in future Sony controllers. Microsoft previously settled a similar lawsuit brought by Immersion, but Sony hung on tenaciously despite complaints about its controller products and disappointing PS3 sales." There's no guarantee that the tech will show up in the Sixaxis controller, of course. After all, rumble is a 'last-gen' feature.
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PS3 Finally Ready to Rumble?

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  • wow (Score:2, Funny)

    $150 million to make something vibrate. I wonder if they will go after cell-phones and beepers next.
    • Re:wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by jimstapleton (999106) on Friday March 02, 2007 @10:18AM (#18206224) Journal
      or certain recreational devices...

      Wait, how long have those been around with that feature? Longer than patents for such things? Prior art maybe?
    • It took Sony to to pump $150 million into 20th century vibration technology to make it a next generation technology. Through the power of this licensed technology, every vibration you'll feel while playing the PS3 will literally come from the future.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      For that and for selling over 100 million devices that violate the patent.
    • "$150 million to make something vibrate. I wonder if they will go after cell-phones and beepers next."

      Their patent is for video games.
      • There are plenty of cell phone games. It's a pretty booming market actually. So if some developer uses the vibrate feature of a phone in their game that probably would count.
        • by XenoRyet (824514)
          I don't think it would. The patent is more specific than that. For example, the Xbox, and 360 controllers use the method described in the patent, and thus license the technology. The GameCube, and Wii controllers, on the other hand apparently have a different method of producing the rumble, and do not fall under the patent.

          Unless I'm completely mistaken about that, a cell phone's vibration feature is very unlikely to fall under the same patent, even when used for games.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by joystickgenie (913297)
            I'm pretty sure it doesn't have to do with the implementation of the rumble but that Nintendo is clear from this because of prior art.

            The rumble pack for the Nintendo 64 and the one for the game boy both came out years before and were patented before the immersion vibration patent. So Nintendo is getting a free ride because they were actually there first and immersion doesn't want to start a feud over who actually owns the idea of rumble in games.

            • by XenoRyet (824514)
              If that's the case, and Nintendo's rumble patent predates Immersion's, why aren't they taking the same action against Immersion, Microsoft, and Sony? It would seem like a very advantageous thing to do.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Am I the only gamer on the planet that thinks rumble is a retarded and overrated feature? I think this rumble thing is a case where the vocal minority are being heard over the quiet majority. I will not miss the rumble, heck I barely ever noticed it was there except in Metal Gear Solid when you meet Psycho Mantis.

      And my wireless controller battery will last longer not having.
    • by Soiden (1029534)
      %150 million to demostrate they can make it vibrate. Because they shouldn't do it, if it's out-of-date :rolleyes:
  • yay! (Score:3, Funny)

    by sandmtyh (560543) on Friday March 02, 2007 @10:12AM (#18206164)
    Good to know sony is willing to take losses on the new console to make it "better"
  • O Rly? (Score:1, Interesting)

    Didn't Sony say that the rumble feature was "current-gen" technology and not "next-gen" technology, and that was why they were no longer using or supporting it?

    • Re:O Rly? (Score:4, Informative)

      by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Friday March 02, 2007 @10:29AM (#18206308) Homepage Journal
      BIZ: A lot of gamers, including myself, enjoy the controller's motion sensing at times, but we still miss rumble. If gamers want it and are vocal enough, will Sony reintroduce the force feedback at some point?

      PH: We have no plans to do so in the standard controller that ships with PlayStation 3. I believe that the Sixaxis controller offers game designers and developers far more opportunity for future innovation than rumble ever did. Now, rumble I think was the last generation feature; it's not the next-generation feature. I think motion sensitivity is. And we don't see the need to do that. Having said that, there will be specific game function controllers, potentially like steering wheels that do include vibration or feedback function--not from us but from third parties.

      http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=1534 2&ncid=AOLGAM000500000000026 [gamedaily.com]
      • by dolson (634094)
        I bet there will be a Dual Shock Suxasses controller coming out soon. Direct from Sony. It's gonna be nice to see them eat their words. Again.
        • Wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mongoose (8480)
          You like it when patent trolls win? Even if you don't like Sony -- at least they tried to avoid paying out to Immersion. This will be for PS2 controller compatibility more than anything else, so you can play your older games with rumble. You didn't see Sony shaking down Microsoft for making a vision based controller.

          I guess trolls of a feather flock together. =)
          • by Rycross (836649)
            It's a shame that Immersion did manage to wring money out of Sony. I'm not a fan of Sony's corporate behavior recently, but they're the victim in this.

            Do Immersion actually make any products, or do they license out rumble technology?
            • by wynler (678277)
              What's wrong with someone getting paid for a good design?  Before Immersion, the technology for creating vibration as feedback for a human interface was available, but had never been used that way before.  Immersion came up with the idea, an idea that no one had thought of before.

              There are some really bad patents out there, but I don't see this as being one.
              • by LKM (227954)
                The problem is that it's highly likely that somebody else would have come up with this idea either way.
            • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward
              Take a look at Immersion's web site: http://www.immersion.com./ [www.immersion.com] Sure doesn't look like a patent troll to me. They have a number of product lines in addition to gaming, including medical (through their own subsidiary), automotive and cell phones.
              • by Rycross (836649)
                But I don't see any actual products, just products by other companies that licensed their technology. [www.immersion.com] I guess if they made a piece of hardware that Logitech just sticks in their joystick that would be one thing, but their website is pretty vague about what Immersion itself actually creates. Theres a lot of talk about licensing, and I did find a snippet about some middleware, but thats about it. I'm not saying that they don't have their own products, but their site doesn't seem to indicate whether or not
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by enharmonix (988983)

                  But I don't see any actual products, just products by other companies that licensed their technology. [www.immersion.com] I guess if they made a piece of hardware that Logitech just sticks in their joystick that would be one thing, but their website is pretty vague about what Immersion itself actually creates. Theres a lot of talk about licensing, and I did find a snippet about some middleware, but thats about it. I'm not saying that they don't have their own products, but their site doesn't seem to indicate whether or not they actually develop the hardware or technology, thus my original question.

                  Going out on a limb here, but I don't think that in itself would necessarily qualify them patent trolls. The point of patents is specifically to protect inventors without investors - they have a good idea but are unable to develop it, or are unable to compete with bigger companies who could manufacture and sell the product for less. The whole point of patents is to allow inventors to license them to other people. What makes somebody a patent troll is when that's their business model - they don't develop

                • But I don't see any actual products, just products by other companies that licensed their technology.

                  ARM Ltd [wikipedia.org] is a CPU maker that doesn't have its own fabs. Instead, it licenses the ARM architecture patents and the VHDL source code for ARM processors to Intel, Freescale, and other chipmakers who want to include an ARM processor in their products. It also distributes proprietary software used when developing system software for products using ARM processors.

              • by OAB_X (818333)
                They did make a force-feedback mouse back in the day. It never went anywhere and was physically tethered to the mouse pad, but they did try and release a product on it.

                There was like one game that was compatible, and that was black/white (original)
          • They just need a new method of rumble. Nintendo isn't paying patent trolls (though they might have a "prior art" case that Sony doesn't).
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        What's interesting is that five minutes with WarioWare: Twisted (a GBA game from a few years back with motion-sensing and rumble) would have made it clear that rumble is an essential feature in a motion-sensing controllers. The assertion that motion-sensing supsersedes rumble is the best proof so far that the people at Sony have no clue what they are doing.
    • by svendsen (1029716)
      And will developers even code for this since they wont know if people have it or not?
    • Apparently, they consider profits obsolete also
  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Friday March 02, 2007 @10:13AM (#18206178) Journal
    Really, when Microsoft rolls over and just pays out the license fee for something, you should start thinking that you could be in the wrong.
  • So ignoring the loss on each Ps3, So ignoring the loss on each Ps3, sony only has to sell 250,000 more units to recover from this. Piece o cake ;-)
  • by GrayCalx (597428) on Friday March 02, 2007 @10:46AM (#18206486)
    Anyone know what Microsoft paid Immersion? I'd like to know if they saved anything by just owning up and paying for it. Or who knows maybe Sony got a deal by putting up a fight.
    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:16AM (#18206790)
      Or who knows maybe Sony got a deal by putting up a fight.

      I don't think so. Sony was sued for $300 in "damages", which we know is always on the high end of things. They're settling for half of that. From the numbers in the article, it looks like they could have licensed the tech for about 50 million (or less), since they've already paid 30 million in compulsory license fees, plus another 20ish for licensing through 2009. Of course, this also isn't factoring in any court fees or their own lawyer costs.
    • by GrayCalx (597428)
      I tried doing some searching and found this...

      "Under the deal, Microsoft will pay Immersion $26 million for licensing rights and for a stake in the company [20 for licensing and a 6million "investment" from microsoft, Immersion also was allowed to borrow 9 million and pay microsoft back with stock], Immersion said Tuesday."

      Buuut I'm not sure what the original claim asked for soo, who knows.
      • by EggyToast (858951)
        I imagine the 30+% increase in their stock price made Microsoft quite happy, if they still have the shares.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rycross (836649)
    • Microsoft did not "own" up. Rather, they did the despicable thing and gave credibility to the patent troll company (think SCO), by funding them. It's these sorts of practices that should convince people to boycott the Xbox 360.
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        Pqatent trolls are companies that buy patents and use them, Immersion actually invented these things. IIRC they were the company that invented that whole Force Feedback fad back in the late 90s.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gamer4Life (803857)
          http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/myturn/?id=1386 1 [gamedaily.com]

          Nintendo did it first.

          And seriously, "game controllers and other devices to vibrate in response to certain events that happen during a game" - how hard is it to think of that? Cellphones, pagers and vibrators were already vibrating in response to certain events. It's a patent that didn't require much to think of, and should never have been awarded.
          • by KDR_11k (778916)
            Patents aren't about the underlying idea, they are about the implementation.

            Also, the nonobvious part seems to be applying that to games and making the game control it, the technology would have been available at the time of the Atari 2600 if it was so obvious that it's a good idea.
            • Patents aren't about the underlying idea, they are about the implementation.

              Tell that to RIM.

              Also, the nonobvious part seems to be applying that to games and making the game control it, the technology would have been available at the time of the Atari 2600 if it was so obvious that it's a good idea.

              Cost? technology? Processing power? I'm sure there were many other factors that rendered force feedback infeasible back in the 80s. And by the time Immersion came up with the idea (not the implementation), Nint

              • by KDR_11k (778916)
                Tell that to RIM.

                But RIM isn't being sued over the same patent.

                Cost? technology? Processing power? I'm sure there were many other factors that rendered force feedback infeasible back in the 80s.

                We're talking about something that can be built from Legos. All the processor would have to do is regulate the amount of power the motor gets. About as tech intensive as implementing sound.
      • by Rycross (836649)
        Sony gave them money too. Thus the article. Should we boycott the PS3 too?
        • Sony at least tried to fight the ridiculous patent. I'd say Sony went to much further lengths than Microsoft did, hence Sony deserves more respect than Microsoft in this regard.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Friday March 02, 2007 @10:53AM (#18206552) Homepage
    I'm curious as to why the guys didn't go after Nintendo - not that I am want them to, just curious.
  • Let's see.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cdneng2 (695646) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:00AM (#18206626)

    So let's see, rumble technology is soooo last generation [cubed3.com], but we've made an expensive agreement to offer it for anything new we've developed. We can force anyone who's rich enough to have bought a PS3 to buy new controllers to upgrade. (If they really want this ancient technology.)

    PS3 owners should be really exploiting the motion sensitivity of the PS3 as this is sooo current generation. So current generation that our developers haven't made many games for it. (Although the Wii is obviously a gimmick [1up.com].)

    Our supply system is so good [igniq.com], that we have PS3s sitting on people's shelves. (Although I defy anyone of you from trying to find any PS3s! [penny-arcade.com])

    I feel so sorry for the SONY PR department. I honestly don't think the Sony Playstation development department knows what they're doing at all with the PS3 anymore. The PR department is running around trying cover up the Sony Product Development blunders with every step they take.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tzhuge (1031302)
      I think that's backwards. Product development knows exactly what they're doing. They followed the guidelines provided marketing, legal and the executives provided to develop a product. It's not their fault that those guidelines weren't well thought out or that marketing could do a better job by just keeping their mouths shut.
      1. Legal: "We haven't settled the lawsuit yet. No rumble. -> Dev: no rumble -> Marketing: "Oh it's so last gen... blah blah"
      2. Executive: "Use Blu-Ray because we're invested in it."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I think you're spot on.

        While product developement isn't perfect, many of their problems come from ridiculous requirements from disconnected marketers and management. Kaz Hirai or Ken Kutaragi may have some technical know-how, but most of the people in the chain won't, or if they do it's likely out of date. As such, requirements not "mired" in reality will be given to the developers.

        I'm pretty sure at some point the marketers angrily summmoned the hardware folks to a meeting, asking them how the hell they th
    • by British (51765)
      I feel so sorry for the SONY PR department. I honestly don't think the Sony Playstation development department knows what they're doing at all with the PS3 anymore. The PR department is running around trying cover up the Sony Product Development blunders with every step they take.

      Sony's PR department reminds me of the wacky Iraqi Information Minister during the war. He just says things that are the opposite of the truth and does it with a straight face.

      I'm no video game marketing expert, but don't try to di
    • Re:Let's see.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wSLACKWAREorf.net minus distro> on Friday March 02, 2007 @12:29PM (#18207740)

      PS3 owners should be really exploiting the motion sensitivity of the PS3 as this is sooo current generation. So current generation that our developers haven't made many games for it. (Although the Wii is obviously a gimmick.)


      Having taken apart my PS3's controller to clean it, I'd have to disagree.

      First of all - there's no way SIXAXIS was designed for manufacturing (when you build millions, you tend to do a hardware revision for manufacturability - save the assembly worker 5 minutes can be huge (can mean she builds another unit in say, 30 minutes), or find a way to save a penny or a dime... (which save you $10,000 or $100,000 per million units)). There are so many fiddly little pieces that are almost symmetrical that you really need a +10 agility boost just to put the thing together. There are also three circuitboards in it - mainboard, button flexi-board, and motion sensor board (take note - this is important). Sure you do it "next revision", but still.

      Secondly, because the motion sensor board is on a separate PCB, it's connected via wires, covered in foam tape, and stuffed in a little alcove on the button chassis. The alcove wasn't designed to hold a circuit board - it's just a little square area. Which means the board is more likely than not to be skewed when its inserted into it. This skew alone makes it difficult to design really good motion sensing games because the accellerometer's axes are all aligned in a random orientation (the alcove doesn't provide any sort of orientation slots, either). Nintendo's Wiimote has the sensor soldered to the main PCB, so the only variance is how the pick'n'place machine puts parts down, and plastic tolerance, but it'll be fairly closely aligned. Sony's design can mean the sensor is oriented quite randomly, and that "up" is "down" to the sensor and what not (or more likely, "down-right" or "down-left"). Oddly enough, I'm sure the space on the main PCB occupied by the motion sensor's 4pin connector is larger than the sensor chip itself. I suspect that somewhere along the manufacturing line the SIXAXIS undergoes some high accellerations (which can destroy the tiny MEMS in the accellerometer if mounted improperly - usually even dropping the sensor on the floor can do it) - perhaps when the populating is done it's all tossed into a big container and the shock of the boards hitting the walls and other boards could damage a large number of them.

      So without calibration, the motion sensor is fairly useless if the player has to figure out how to rotate the controller to get the motion it needs.

      Fun trivia - the PlayStation logo is designed to light up - the button material below it is translucent and pokes down throught he button chassis to two pads on the main circuitboard - an LED is supposed to go there, but isn't populated. Wonder why that changed... it really would look nicer if it was lit up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by c4miles (249464)
        Orientation of the motion sensor circuit board is irrelevant. There is a constant 'acceleration' due to gravity that can be used as a baseline to zero the accelerometers.
        • Orientation of the motion sensor circuit board is irrelevant. There is a constant 'acceleration' due to gravity that can be used as a baseline to zero the accelerometers.

          That means you know what direction is down in terms of the accelerometer's axes, but you still don't know the orientation of the controller. That's important information if, for example, you're using the controller as a steering wheel like some Wii games do, and you need to know the 'centered' position.

          It's possible that the PS3 controlle

    • by springbox (853816)
      I can't wait for Sony to say something like: "Yes, rumble is a last generation technology, but this is Force Feedback!"
    • I think Sony hired the Iraqi Information Minister to head their PR department.
    • I call BS on Sony claiming rumble is a "last-gen" technology considering they wanted to integrate it into the PS3 controller all the way up until the date they lost the initial claim.

      However, this case is all about settling the damages related to sales of PS2 controllers and has nothing to with the PS3 now that the design has been changed. Microsoft's settlement is far less than Sony's for two reasons- they settled earlier in the process and, most importantly, Sony sold a hell of a lot more PS2 rumble cont
  • There's a rumor that they will release the new rumble device as Mr. Rumblor - a wiimote shaped device with no buttons, but an odd mushroom-like top.
  • Great (Score:2, Troll)

    by finkployd (12902)
    Those will look really nice on the shelf next to the dozen or so PS3s I see in every store as I try to find a Wii :(

    Finkployd
  • by MS-06FZ (832329)
    Not sure why this story is in YRO? Then apply the tag "whyro" to it!
  • Microsoft has a history of supporting trolls - just take a look at SCO. This time, they settled with the patent troll company Immersion, and proceeded to buy a 40% stake in the company.

    This will benefit PS3 owners, but the public ultimately lost.
  • 1st round --------- PS3 vs. Afro Thunder!

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