Sony has shown us some fascinating alternative controllers for the PlayStation 5, and one possible version is still at the patent stage. A recently published patent document suggests Sony might be currently experimenting with haptic technology that would allow part of your controller to change shape or temperature depending on the gameplay.
Thank You, PS Plus, For Making My Backlog Even Bigger
The patent, originally spotted by gaming website Exputer, details how the technology would work if it ever came to be. The controller would feature a more pliable “elastic member.” While controllers as they exist today are hard plastic that isn’t malleable, the elastic member could actually change shape. And though that hard plastic body hasn’t changed over the decades, controllers have gotten more advanced, adding details like haptic features that are present in the current DualSense controller that comes with each PS5.
“However, recent years have seen widespread use of technologies that present vibrations and force sensations in order to enrich user experiences in gaming and the like,” the patent document reads. “The present invention has been made in light of the above circumstances, and it is an object thereof to provide a controller capable of enriching haptic experiences.”
The patent further illustrates a sensor that would measure details such as whether the elastic piece is touched, twisted, pressed with a finger, pinched, squashed, rubbed. It could also measure things like acceleration. In response, this elastic part of the controller can change its temperature, shape, and hardness. I am trying not to make a dirty joke, but Sony’s patent description is doing most of the legwork here. The fact that all these features are controlled by the pressure and heat from a player’s hands make it sound even worse.
My juvenile mind aside, the haptic tech is pretty neat. The elastic member could be filled with pockets of gas that expand. When the controller heats up, the gel material of the member could change its firmness. The elastic piece also has the vibration capabilities of any modern controller. While it can be interesting to think about how a controller can convey the intensity of a volcano level or simulate the feeling of climbing a rope, I have some reservations. All these features sound like they could be too physically stimulating for when I’m trying to concentrate on pulling off some sick moves in God of War.
It’s also important to recognize that just because the patent exists does not mean that the controller will come to life, or that Sony even has any plans for it. Companies often take out patents defensively, essentially so that another company can’t do so (at least not without paying up), even if it’s not something it wants to actually pursue. Ahead of the PlayStation 5 release, patent documents revealed a version of the console that never saw the light of a Walmart shelf.
These possibilities sound more like excess bells and whistles than anything that would change how I currently experience PlayStation games. In his premium DualSense Edge review, Kotaku staff writer Kenneth Shepard couldn’t recommend the controller to the average person due to its excruciating $200 price point. If temperature-responsive controllers cost significantly more than a regular DualSense, then I’m not sure if it’s really worth swapping out what you currently have.