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Sony patents touchscreen gaming device dubbed 'EyePad'

Sony could be working on a gaming tablet, according to a recent patent filing, called the 'EyePad'. Now where have we heard that before?

Sony is set to reveal the future of PlayStation this week, but it seems that direction may be something we never expected -- a touchscreen gaming tablet to take on the iPad, known as, er, the EyePad.

A European patent filed by the Japanese company last year, which was recently published and spotted by the Gamechup blog, details a gamepad with a screen, similar to that of the Wii U, which will track your movement using the glowing light on the side of the device, much like the PlayStation Move.

It's not entirely surprising that Sony would give a PlayStation peripheral the 'eye' suffix, given that it's previously launched the 'Eye Toy' and the 'PlayStation Eye', but it does seem cheeky that it's seemingly chosen a name that so closely resembles Apple's iPad.

The patent suggests the EyePad will have a touchscreen at its centre, but the edges will glow -- so it can be picked up by the PlayStation Eye and track your movement. The device also offers two stereoscopic cameras, which according to the patent will be used to detect motion above the screen, meaning you will be able to prod objects which are a closer representation of real life, in a 3D environment.

There's also a suggestion of a future game that may be launched with the PlayStation 4 and the EyePad. The game, called EyePets, will work in much the same way as other pet-stroking games, most notably Nintendogs and Kinectimals, but with the ability to stroke and groom the digital critters in 3D.

While there's no promising this will ever make it to shops -- after all, companies constantly file patents they never intend to use -- it doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility. Sony has followed Nintendo's lead before, with the PlayStation Move controller resembling a more advanced version of the Wii remote.

Sony's not the only company rumoured to be working on a gaming tablet -- Microsoft is expected to launch a 7-inch Xbox Surfacewith the next-generation Xbox.

Whether or not the device will launch with the 'EyePad' name is also distinctly uncertain, given Apple has never been slow to get its lawyers involved. But if the EyePad is due to be released this year, we'll no doubt see it at Sony's press conference on Wednesday.

Do you think Sony has got its eye on the ball when it comes to the future of gaming, or do you think it's lost sight of what gamers want? Hit me up in the comments below, or take a look at our Facebook page.

Additional reporting by Jordan O'Brien.