Sony and Nintendo stand in polar opposition in regard to their outlook on technology in this generation of gaming hardware. Rather than rearming to match Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo opted for lower-cost components and alternative input schemes for the Wii and DS. Sony, on the other hand, chose to invest in hardware that has been as expensive to create as it has been to buy. With Nintendo announcing record profits and Sony fighting to get its games division back in the black, the near-term winner of that decision has proven to be self-evident.

However, as this generation continues to play out in Nintendo's favor, Sony may be taking a few cues from its competitor's playbook for future iterations of its PlayStation and PlayStation Portable hardware. According to a pair of recently published patent applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Sony is eyeing input devices that look to expand on current touch-screen and motion-sensing utilities currently employed in the gaming sector.

Though much of both patents are written in a suitably esoteric language ("The actuatable portion is actuatable by the actuator between first and second positions"), the first application justifies its existence by noting that while "existing touch screens are configured to receive a mechanical input and provide a visible output," they "are not configured to provide both a visible and a mechanical output."

The application then proceeds to describe a device that provides a touch-feedback sensation upon contact with a touch screen. The device described is not limited to a single screen, and may be used for a variety of applications, including "a gaming device, a phone, a portable media player, an email device, web browser device, or navigation device."

The second application filed by Harrison details a handheld unit that transfers images from a second device through gestures. Once transferred, the images appear on both the handheld device's touch screen and the original machine's screen. As with the first patent application, the device can be a "gaming device, phone, portable media player, email device, web browser device, or navigation device."

Both applications were submitted for review by former Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison in January, but were only made public late last week.