What new tech does Sony have up its sleeves for the next PlayStation?
Earlier this month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Sony Interactive Entertainment, a London-based subsidiary of Japan's Sony Corporation, that may give us a clue about what to expect from the forthcoming PlayStation 5 console's controller.
Sony seems to be envisioning a future of gaming that goes way beyond current state-of-the-art technologies, like virtual reality headsets. While those are mentioned in the patent, the company notes "it is advantageous to provide peripherals" to create an even more connected gaming environment. In other words, tactile responses will only augment the existing immersive gaming landscape.
A good portion of the patent acknowledges additional sensory feedback hardware is expensive and most consumers won't willingly buy these add-ons unless they're early adopters. So instead of creating a new device, like a pair of gloves, the Sony inventors put the invention inside a gadget that we're already familiar and comfortable with.
That should "encourage content providers to provide additional functionality in the content," according to the patent. With a larger audience using those controllers with built-in biomarker sensors, it's more likely that video game developers will incorporate sensor connectivity into their products, the company reasons.
Overall, that should be genuinely exciting news for gamers. Just imagine the controller picking up on your fast heartbeat and sweaty palms during a showdown in a first-person shooter game and having more enemies pop up to fight you as you're hitting critical nail-biting status. It feels a bit like the "Playtest" episode of Black Mirror, but hopefully in a less sinister way.
One of the sensors tracks electrodermal activity. These essentially measure electrical voltage between two sites—here, two different points on the gamer's skin. Sony wants to collect data on galvanic skin resistance, which refers to the recorded electrical resistance between two electrodes when a weak current is passed between them, and galvanic skin potential, which is the voltage measured between two electrodes with any external current.
It basically all comes down to a simple desire on Sony's part to gauge the emotional response that gamers are having at any given moment in time.
The sensors are embedded within soft sleeves that are attached to both handles of the controller. While only one is necessary to take skin measurements or heart measurements, the redundancy of having two ensures more accurate measurements, according to the patent.
Sony also plays around with the idea of embedding sensors into individual buttons on the controllers so the look and feel of the classic device is impeded as little as possible. Of course, that presents its own challenges as the contact with sensors would only be intermittent, but it's a possibility. Or the sensor control unit may be placed on the back of the controller.
This is all to say that things are still up in the air. Sony may have no intention of using this patent any time soon—keeping the PS5's controller pretty basic—or it may be tinkering around with various iterations of the biofeedback controller with test groups as you're reading this. That's the beauty of patents, though: possibility.
And hey, if not this time around, you can always wait on the PS6 controllers, right?
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