Technology

The PlayStation 5 Controller Could Have a Touchscreen, Hints Patent

Sony PlayStation 5 Controller Touchscreen
Image Source: Sony / USPTO (screenshot)

Gaming console makers have experimented with touchscreen controllers before. Remember Nintendo’s disastrous Wii U with a display on the controller? Sony’s current PlayStation controllers have a touchpad in the center to let you navigate through menus and control other activities. According to a patent application filed by Sony with the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), the PlayStation 5 controller could sport a touchscreen.

Will Sony add a touchscreen to the PlayStation 5 controller?

The patent was filed in September last year and made public last month. It was first spotted by Reddit user AlphaFoxWarfare (via DualShockers). A touchscreen-enabled PlayStation 5 controller could offer more opportunities for interactive feedback such as showing the current inventory, a mini-map, and in-game stats.

The controller described in the patent application looks nearly identical to the DualShock 4 controller, which has been around for five years. However, the new controller has a touchscreen in place of the touchpad. Though Sony didn’t specify which console would get the new technology, we expect the company to introduce it with the PlayStation 5 controller.

The patent description suggests the touchscreen could be used to display “various images” and control elements on your TV or monitor. Much of the in-game information that appears on the main screen could be shown on the touchscreen. The touchscreen-enabled controller could also allow you to perform new actions such as handling the friend requests and incoming invites and sharing a video broadcast, speculates TechCrunch.

This is just a patent, which may or may not find its way into final products. So, don’t get your hopes high. Even if Sony decides to add the touchscreen to the PlayStation 5 controller, only time will tell whether it will add real value to the console. The Japanese company already has some experience with touchscreens. The PlayStation Vita features a touchscreen on the front and a touchpad on the back.

We expect the touchscreen-enabled PlayStation 5 controller to address one of the biggest problems with the DualShock 4 controller: battery life. The DualShock 4 battery life is disappointing. You can dim the brightness of the touchpad to improve it slightly, but it still lags far behind the competition.

Though Sony hasn’t revealed much about the PS5, it has confirmed that it was working on the next-generation console. Another patent filed by the company with the USPTO suggests that Sony is also working on a new hand tracking kit that could make controllers useless. The patent describes a head-mounted display that can track the location of fingers on your hand, allowing users to interact directly with the virtual world without requiring controllers. It also allows you to bring the outside world into the gameplay or simply switch to a view of the outside world.

What to expect from the PS5

According to the rumor mill, the Japanese company is developing PlayStation 5 under the code-name ‘Erebus.’ The code-name was spotted in the Unreal Engine 4 code alongside the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Sony has traditionally named its consoles after Greek deities. The PS4 was internally named Orbis while the PlayStation VR was known as Morpheus. Erebus is the god of darkness.

It’s too early to predict what the PlayStation 5 would look like. Sources familiar with Sony’s plans have told Digital Foundry that the company was working with AMD for the PS5 processor. The console could run AMD’s Ryzen processor. The PS5 is also expected to offer the online streaming of games and improved AI capabilities. The PS5 will reportedly be backward compatible with the PS4, PS3, and PS2. Sony’s rival Microsoft is also focusing on backward compatibility.

Recent reports suggest the PlayStation Network (PSN) is expected to get a radical overhaul with the PS5. Sony has tried to improve the PSN by allowing for name changes and faster download speeds, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. The future versions of PSN could focus more on digital features and online streaming. One of the patents filed by Sony suggests the PS5 could offer V-Sync support to ensure that the games run smoother on the new console.

There is little clarity on when the PlayStation 5 would launch. Some reports suggest it could debut as early as next year while others claim it won’t arrive until 2021. Sony would want to launch the PS5 before Microsoft’s Xbox Scarlett, which will reportedly hit the store shelves in 2020 or 2021. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter predicts the PS5 would also launch in 2020 or 2021.