Sony Patents To Improve Voice Chat In Games For Disabled Users

The patent will improve upon the vocal collision technology to aid gamers.

Story Highlights

  • Sony has published a new patent that will provide a workaround for voices overlapping during in-game voice chat sessions to help users with hearing loss and disabilities.
  • The method will use a vocal collision queue system, which will record the incoming audio streams, assign priorities, and play them sequentially in the correct order.
  • The system could show visual queues to show what queue is playing, and the patent also describes adding a transcription system.
  • The proposed system could greatly help users with disabilities and could improve the voice chat feature in games for people with a bad internet connection.

We have stumbled upon Sony’s newly issued patent that aims to significantly improve voice chats in video games to assist users with hearing loss and disabilities. The legal paper provides a workaround for the back end when many gamers talk on top of each other amidst a hefty amount of lag. In that case, a user could be presented with a slew of voices being heard simultaneously, making it harder to understand for disabled gamers.

The patent by Sony dubbed “VOCAL COLLISION QUEUE” states the impact of voice overlapping and its possible solutions, which will highly improve the game experience for players with disabilities and the rest of the players. It gives an example of users “in the middle of gameplay (e.g., an important mission) that requires immediate teamwork and communication, such vocal collisions may contribute to gameplay failures.

Where such vocal collisions occur, the user may be presented with multiple concurrent vocal communications to try to decipher at the same time that gameplay may be ongoing. As a result, each of the players may not comprehend one or more of the overlapping vocal communications. […] Some users—particularly those with hearing-loss or other conditions and disabilities affecting hearing and cognition—may find such situations difficult to navigate, thereby adversely affecting their enjoyment and experience with the interactive game title.”

Thus, the patent will use a vocal collision queue system, solving the voice overlap issue during gameplay. The proposed method may include recording the incoming audio streams in real-time, figuring out when an overlap occurs between audio streams during a gameplay session, and it will set up a queue system so the affected audio streams can play sequentially one after another at the right time without any overlap for players.

Flowchart illustrating an example method for providing vocal collision queues.

The system could also generate visual cues to alert players about which queue is currently being played. For instance, a display could visually present the current queue, and all the players could see which user is currently speaking. It could also feature a transcription of the current spoken audio, which would further help gamers with hearing loss or disabilities.

A display that visually presents the determined queue may be generated and provided to the user devices in the communication session. After a set period of time, or after all of the provided recordings have been played, the queue may be removed from the display. The displayed queue may further include transcription of all the audio streams that visually shows the sequence. The displayed queue may include the transcription displayed in a swimming lane diagram, or in a visual format that depicts which user spoke which transcribed statements that were overlapped.”

The image illustrates an example graphical user interface (GUI) in which a queue with transcription is presented.

The patent dives into the technical details deeply, and Sony discusses the proposed system and its many embodiments using jargon. All in all, the proposed method could significantly change gaming for users with hearing issues or disabilities. Moreover, players with a bad internet connection could also speak in voice chats during in-game sessions due to the lag not affecting the audio streams as much, as discussed by the patent.

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Shameer Sarfaraz is a Senior News Writer on eXputer who loves to keep up with the gaming and entertainment industries devoutly. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and several years of experience reporting on games. Besides his passion for breaking news stories, Shahmeer loves spending his leisure time farming away in Stardew Valley. VGC, IGN, GameSpot, Game Rant, TheGamer, GamingBolt, The Verge, NME, Metro, Dot Esports, GameByte, Kotaku Australia, PC Gamer, and more have cited his articles.

Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor in Computer Science.

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