The "Kinect effect" must be real because a new patent that was filed in October, but only made public recently, indicates Sony is working on its own 3D-depth sensor camera for PlayStation consoles. Are PS3 or PS4 owners going to get in on Microsoft's "You are the controller" campaign? Maybe.
The patent was filed by Richard Marks, the same guy who created the PlayStation Move and PlayStation Eye and EyeToy — the latter of which is considered a limited predecessor to Kinect.
Here's the abstract from the patent:
An invention is provided for affording a real-time three-dimensional interactive environment using a depth sensing device. The invention includes obtaining depth values indicating distances from one or more physical objects in a physical scene to a depth sensing device. The depth sensing device is configurable to be maintained at a particular depth range defined by a plane so that objects between the particular depth range and the depth sensing device are processed by the depth sensing device, wherein the particular depth range establishes active detection by the depth sensing device, as depth values of objects placed through the particular depth range and toward the depth sensing device are detected and depth values of objects placed beyond the particular depth range are not detected. The objects placed through the particular depth range are rendered and displayed in a virtual scene based on geometric characteristics of the object itself.
Sony's never been shy about ripping off its competitors, so long as it makes its version more powerful. The PlayStation Move is just an advanced Wii Remote with actual 1:1 tracking.
A Sony 3D-depth sensor would probably provide closer range tracking than the Kinect's six to 10 feet requirement (Xbox 360 Kinect, not the PC Kinect).
At this late in the game, I'm not sure if gamers even want an advanced Kinect for PlayStation. Those who want a Kinect have already bought one. The only way I could see Sony selling a Kinect-like device and it not flopping entirely is if it comes bundled or built-in into the PS4.
Then again, this could all be patent nonsense and Sony is just covering all of its bases, and this patent might never make it into any real products.