The Vita has two touch screens, two analogue sticks, voice activation and twelve buttons, which puts it far ahead of all gaming handhelds, but according to PlaystationLifestyle, Sony has another trump card. A detailed patent on gesture controls. However it’s uncited
Sony has a patent on gesture based controls for a portable console that uses a camera which was filed back in 2009, which would allow for hands-free interaction with the console that uses the technology. The patent’s details mention problems related to using buttons or touchpads, a quote saying “it is not easy to give an instruction to the information processing apparatus in a situation in which it is not easy to operate an operating member”. I kind of doubt I will ever be in a situation where I wont be able to use a handheld console properly.
The advantages of such a thing are quite numerous. Touch screens are fragile and very prone to getting dirty from time to time, and a small flaw on a stylus can leave marks, scars, and scratches. Inversely, gestures that are too sensitive could be set off by something as innocuous as putting the console down for a second or holding it too close to your body. It’s a technology that has its problems but it otherwise innovative.
The camera is capable of tracking not just the X/Y of your finger, but the distance from the console which allows for interaction within a 3D space, as opposed to the 3DS which has the 3D as purely graphical. Other details of the patent include multiple fingers being used and how that can work in a practical setting.
There is no mention of the Playstation Vita in the patent at all which is easily explained by it being a concept and the Vita was not officially named at that point in 2009, but there is a good possibility that it could be used if the patent exists. The reason I listed this as a possible rumor is because the source does not give any citations or a link to the patent, and I’ll keep it that way until someone proves otherwise since my own searching was fruitless (that, and I can’t search patents for crap).