Sony got good mileage out of its PlayStation Move motion controllers, which it introduced for the PS3 generation. But it could be moving to something more akin to the Valve Index controller for the upcoming PlayStation 5. A patent application published this month suggests finger-tracking technology could come to the system, possibly for use with PlayStation VR.
The application, which was first filed in 2018, is for a hand-worn device that includes sensors to detect individual fingers. A “sensor support” unit is located in the middle and is adjustable to accommodate different hand sizes.
The device, if designed as it was drawn in the application, would include physical buttons with the tracking software. It would still be a significant leap from the PlayStation Move, which is currently used on the PS4 and relies on physical buttons, analog sticks, and a bright light for tracking via the PlayStation Camera. Players must be in clear view of the PlayStation Camera or the tracking will be inaccurate or fail to work entirely.
Aside from the Valve Index, the Oculus Rift S and Quest have both added finger-tracking support in updates. These don’t require a controller at all, as they work solely via the built-in cameras on the headsets themselves. The current PlayStation VR headset has no cameras and uses LEDs similar to the PlayStation Move controllers for tracking.
The PS5 will support the original PlayStation VR headset in addition to whatever successor Sony has in development. The headset didn’t launch until 2016, three years after the PS4 released. A revised version followed in 2017, but it only made slight changes to the wiring rather than a significant design overhaul.
The finger-tracking controller wasn’t the only Sony patent application published recently. Others include a special imaging device that could be used for PlayStation VR technology, as well as an ambient sound device that mixes environmental noise picked up via microphone.
In 2019, it filed a patent application for an “in-game resource surfacing platform” that was published in January. By asking the console for help with beating a section of a game, players can pull from others’ data and determine the best strategy. This is similar to what Google Assistant promises through Stadia, but Sony’s full application text mentions that it could cost money. The prevalence of gameplay walk-through videos on sites like YouTube and Twitch will make it a curious venture.
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