Patent hints at PSP redesign

Filing with USPTO raises possibility of a new, screen-swiveling portable from Sony.

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Last March, a rumor surfaced from a PSP in Education event hinting at a PlayStation Portable redesign. One of the more perplexing tidbits offered up by Sony Computer Entertainment UK managing director Ray Maguire was that despite being smaller and lighter, one of the PSP's most attractive elements, its screen, would emerge from the slimming unscathed. Some light has been shed on how Sony might pull this feat off in a filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which was updated last week.

Sony's screen swiveler.
Sony's screen swiveler.

In question is a patent for Sony's much-speculated-upon mobile-communication-equipped PSP, which details a way to switch between gaming functionality and phone functionality on the fly. According to a diagram (pictured) accompanying the patent, which was first filed last November, this is done by rotating the screen and a portion of the face buttons 90 degrees. The system would be equipped with a sensor that could detect the position of the screen, which in turn would determine the handheld's video output. The patent also details a third position for the screen, which would control TV and video function.

While promising, the patent is not concrete proof that a new PSP is being made, since many prospective designs are registered but never put into production. However, in May, Sony announced it would be joining with UK telecom service provider BT to bring wireless broadband communication to the PSP. Such a service would allow for voice and video calls, as well as text messaging, by integrating BT products into the PSP.

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