Sony Patents PlayStation Controller with Microphone
Sony PlayStation 5 controllers may include a microphone for voice interactions, based on a new patent granted to the company and found on WIPO. The “Controller Device and Control Method Thereof” doesn’t specifically say the design is for the upcoming video game console, but it is likely a part of Sony’s overarching plans to integrate voice AI into its lineup.
Voice Input, Haptic Feedback
The patent shows the specs for what appears to be a new version of the standard DualShock Controller, but with some new updates, including a microphone and speaker. The patent implies that the microphone will be used to connect to a voice assistant by laying out how, when the microphone is accepting voice input, the speaker will mute itself. Haptic feedback, controller vibrations, will indicate that the device is processing the voice commands.
The new patent slots neatly into the design for a voice assistant Sony patented in the fall, called the PlayStation Assist. That patent outlined a voice AI that would interact with a player during a game, offering advice and managing the console without the player needing to pause the game. The description of the PlayStation Assist suggests it will be far more advanced than the current voice commands available for the PlayStation 4. While neither patent explicitly mentions the PlayStation 5, there’s every reason to think that the voice assistant and controller to speak with it will be part of Sony’s next generation of video game console. The PlayStation 5 is expected to come out in late 2020, though no official date has been set. Sony has said it will not have a booth at E3, the largest video game event of the year, fueling more speculation that the company will do its own pre-launch event to announce the console and, potentially, the voice assistant.
The patents are suggestive, but another big reason to believe the PS 5 will have a voice assistant is because of the way other gaming console developers are investing in the idea. Google’s new Stadia video game streaming platform operates using a branded controller with a microphone and button for activating Google Assistant. Though Stadia shipped without Google Assistant access, the company has promised Stadia-specific features to enhance gameplay. Microsoft is also working on new ways to bring voice into its Xbox consoles, even after removing its own Cortana voice assistant from the lineup. The next iteration of the Xbox is expected to apply voice AI, either using Google and Amazon’s platforms or in partnership with startups like Fridai, which builds video game-specific voice assistants and recently joined the Microsoft for Startups accelerator.