The PS5 has been expected to get a lightly updated version of the DualShock controller with some new haptic feedback features. But the discovery of new designs has revealed that the PS5 controller could offer a lot more than that.
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Respawnfirst (via GamesRadar) found a patent made by Sony in February 2018 and published by the USPTO on Feb. 20, detailing a “biofeedback sensor for a controller.”
The illustrations from that patent (included below) show how these sensors would partially or fully cover the front or back of the controller’s handles (the patent also considers button-mounted sensors too). These sensors would either slide onto the controller's handles or them or be fastened with something like velcro, and then connect to the Dualshock 4’s rear micro-USB port. The sensors would then measure electrodermal activity, which can tell the processor how sweaty your hands are in response to a stimulus in-game. The patent also suggests using other sensors that could extrapolate a player’s responses, such as heart rate.
This information would then be sent to an “output unit”, via USB cable or Bluetooth, where it would then process the information into a format that developers could then work with. This could perhaps rank the intensity of a fear response to a horror game and tailor the experience accordingly, interpreting which choice a player wants to make when met with a branch in a game’s narrative.
Or this feature could detect that a player is using a button that has no function in a specific game and communicate that to the player. This system could also work with a PlayStation camera for even more data.
As the text of the patent explains: “There is a desire in computer gaming to provide an immersive and highly interactive experience for plays, so as to enhance the enjoyment of the player.” It then reflects on how prohibitively expensive peripherals can be, which means few players buy them and then few developers add features into their games which take advantage of them. It’s therefore hoped that an accessory like this sensor, that you can add to your existing controller for a low price, would help fix that self-defeating cycle.
It sounds a little invasive, but with immersive experiences like VR slowly taking off, this seems like obvious line of research for Sony to take. Of course this is just a patent, and any commercial product that comes from this could be a long way off, perhaps only appearing long after the PS5’s launched.
If you want some gaming action right now, then the PlayStation 4 Pro is a great place to start. You can get a PSVR headset for some virtual reality gaming, but even with just the standard controller you can enjoy 4K gaming with the best PS4 games.