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PlayStation 4 drops the DualShock controller in favor of a new Wii U-style, DNA sensing pad

The PlayStation 4 is coming. Maybe it will be called Orbis, maybe it will be called Thebes, maybe it won’t be backwards compatible, maybe it won’t play used video games. Maybe Sony will finally release a video game console that will actually slice bread. It’s all up in the air until the company announces the machine later this year, as they’re expected to do sometime between now and E3 2013. All that’s guaranteed is that it will be different than the PlayStation 3, and in more ways than one. Based on new rumors it appears that the PlayStation 4 will be the first Sony console to abandon the DualShock controller.

The UK’s Computer and Video Games reported on Friday that a studio source working on a PlayStation 4 game that Sony will publish has said that the next home console from the company will abandon its iconic 18-button controller. While the exact form factor of the new controller isn’t finalized, it will bear little in common with any iteration of DualShock from the past 15 years.

According to the source, the new controller will have biometric sensors in the grips as well as an LCD touch screen in the middle. Another source connected to Sony  (but not a video game developer) backed up the first source, claiming that the PlayStation 4’s designers are “trying to emulate the same user interface philosophies as the PS Vita.”

Incorporating a touch screen into the controller is an expected move from Sony. It would allow for better cross play experiences between PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, and a number of Sony’s competitors are including touch screens on their controllers. The Nintendo Wii U’s raison d’être is its tablet-style controller, but even the new Android-based Ouya console has a touch panel incorporated into its controller.

The biometric sensors are also an expected addition. Sony patents published in September detailed such controller sensors, describing a system that would recognize individual users by scanning their fingerprints, irises, and even their DNA. The tech would both allow for deeply personalized experiences but also an anti-piracy system based on genetics. Orwellian? Yes, but Sony seems dead set on avoiding the specter of piracy while also making its system easier to develop for than the PlayStation 3.

Prior to the PlayStation 3’s release, Sony proposed a very different looking game controller than the DualShock 3. The boomerang-shaped controller pictured above was widely panned and never went into mass production.