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PS3 boss targets phones & networks

Former PlayStation exec's big plans for gaming

Ken Kutaragi [cq], the former head of Sony's game division and the man who brought the world the PlayStation, will look to harness the power of the network to tie together content in his next endeavour.

"I see a new business in which servers and networks allow many people to jointly perform large calculations and enjoy content together," he told Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily in the first interview since he announced last week that he would step down from Sony.

Kutaragi led Sony into the game console business with the 1995 launch of the PlayStation and through the launch last November of the PlayStation 3 (PS3). But shortly after the PS3 launch, he lost day-to-day control of Sony’s Computer Entertainment division when he was appointed chairman from his previous role as president. Last week he said he will step down as chairman in June but retain ties to Sony as a technology advisor to CEO Howard Stringer [cq].

Kutaragi told the newspaper he wants to expand networks involving mobile phones and other similar products with support from Sony and other companies.

"Since I led on networking with the PS3, I think it is my responsibility to push further in that direction," he told the newspaper.

The PS3's networking capabilities and powerful Cell processor are already being collectively harnessed to help Stanford University's Folding@home project.

The grid-computing project studies the development of proteins as part of research into disease prevention. The total power for the project has more than doubled by employing unused processor cycles from PS3 consoles.

Kutaragi spoke at last year's Tokyo Game Show on what might be possible in the future should gaming start to take advantage of the increasing amount of information available on the network. He said one day it might be possible to play car racing games along real streets by using data downloaded from public mapping databases.

"Today producers have to [produce the game landscape] by foot with digital cameras if they want to use a real world setting. With these databases available you can incorporate data into the game," he said during a keynote speech at the event.

Kutaragi also touched on the way users might come together, supplementing publicly available sources with more detailed information on locations.

"If you have the database, you don't have to put it all in from scratch," he said.


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