There’s been no shortage of rumors and hearsay regarding the future of Sony’s console gaming business. The fourth generation PlayStation will be a more developer-friendly machine than the PlayStation 3 according to sources within the industry, describing the machine as more of a “modified PC.” There has been little discussion of what the next PlayStation’s controller will look like, though. Is Sony planning on sticking with the Dualshock gaming controller that’s stayed relatively unchanged for fifteen years or will it opt for a next-generation version of the PlayStation Move motion-sensing wand? Patents suggest the PlayStation 4’s controller may be a mix of both.
A patent filed by Sony in 2011 describing a gaming controller called a “Hybrid Separable Motion Controller” was made public on Thursday. The device seen in the above image and in other figures on the patent shows what is an explicit cross between Sony’s existing controllers. It features the same bulbous heads as the PlayStation Move and the swim twin analog stick design used in all Sony controllers since the original Dualshock came out in the late ’90s for the original PlayStation.
On bulb is fixed on each side of the controller and it can be split in two with each half containing the accelerometer and gyro technology in an individual Move wand. This device would do away with the need for the analog stick companion for the move and would also ease audiences into games that use two Move controllers, like the original Sports Champions. According to the patent, this new controller will still need a PlayStation Eye camera to work.
While the number of PlayStation 3 games to support the move controller has been limited, Sony has managed to sell 15 million of the motion controllers in two years. The popularity of the Wii and more recently Microsoft’s Kinect has guaranteed that motion-based video games will remain a popular fixture of the console gaming business. The Move technology is still cumbersome, though, offering precision lacking in Kinect and Nintendo games, but also necessitating a more complex set up process. Part of the reason Kinect has been so successful for Microsoft is its ease of use.
The Hyrbid Separable Controller is a recent piece of technology conceived by Sony, but it’s unlikely that it will be a highlight of the PlayStation 4.