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Sony's crazy new patent

Could it change games forever?

Sony has registered a crazy new patent which could have big implications for the way we play games - and what we play them on.

That's according to New Scientist journalist Barry Fox, who spotted it over on the US patent office website.

The patent is for "An electrorheological fluid device and an electronic apparatus, which realise various hardness or tension in a portion of the device or apparatus to which a human body touches, enabling application to a product that needs to have portability."

In other words, Sony is trying to develop handheld computers, phones and games consoles that would fold up to fit in your pocket - and take on a rigid form only when you're ready to use them.

Fox explains that "The body and screen of folding gadgets would be made from a flexible polymer containing conductive rubber bracing struts filled with a gel of aluminosilicate particles suspended in silicone oil.

"When a current is passed through the struts, the particles clump together and harden the gel, making the gadget solid enough to use. Sony has found that it would take very little power to make such a folding device harden, so the drain on its battery should be low."

It's not just portable gadgets that might make use of the technology, either - according to the patent, it could be applied to game controllers: "A user touches a control section of the controller by fingers, and the feeling of touch is controlled by the electrorheological fluid device.

"For example, if a game player is defeated in a fighting game, the electrorheological fluid device is controlled to become soft in order to improve the realistic sensations in the game."

So, a thorough drubbing in Tekken could leave you with a squidgy controller, it seems. All very interesting, but it's likely we'll have to wait a while yet before we see exactly how Sony plans to make use of the technology...