They say when something isn’t broken, don’t fix it, and Sony’s DualShock controllers — first released in 1997 for the original PlayStation system — is a prime example of this timeless maxim. Applauded for its intuitive design and general comfort, Sony has been sticking with virtually the same controller design for the last 16 years, experiencing only minor tweaks that never diluted what made it so popular with the gaming community. With the PlayStation 3 gradually fading into the background to make room for its successor, it has been reported that Sony will be eschewing the tried-and-true DualShock route in favor of a new controller utilizing touch screens and other features for the fourth installment of their best-selling line of game consoles.
Various sources have told CVG that Sony’s Research and Development department has been exploring new avenues of design and function in regards to this new mystery controller. The reported touch controls are said to have been inspired by the interface of the PlayStation Vita handheld. Additionally, engineers are researching ways to integrate biometric sensors that pick up on the player’s heart rate, muscle movement, and — for lack of a better word — palm sweat which patents from roughly two years ago have shown can be used to impact events in-game.
Substantiating these reports of a new controller is the legal battle between Sony and tech company Immersion over the former’s apparent infringement of the latter’s rumble technology patent. Though the two managed to reach an expensive settlement in March 2007, Immersion has since been granting Sony the license to continue using their rumble technology, which extends to any future consoles. Due to the complexity and length of Immersion’s agreement — which dissolves in March 2017 — Sony has plenty of justification to strike out on their own and design a new controller in-house.
Details are still foggy at the moment, but it’s been rumored that Sony will be unveiling the PlayStation 4 — code name “Orbis” — sooner than we anticipate, even as early as this coming March. So once spring rolls around, we may finally get a glimpse of the controller Sony’s R&D team has been working on.
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