Sony Reveals PlayStation 5 Controller with Microphone
Sony has officially revealed details for the upcoming PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller. The controller will, as rumored, include a microphone array that could mean a built-in voice assistant will be part of the video game console.
Speak and Control
Sony hosted an event to unveil the PS5 several weeks ago, but none of the revealed specs mentioned the controller or whether a voice assistant would be part of it. Nonetheless, the microphones in the controller are not a surprise. Sony patented a controller that looks very similar back in January. That patent included a microphone and speaker. There are also new and improved haptic feedback elements in the patent and final controller that may be used as indicators that the system is processing voice input.
Sony claimed in its announcement that the microphone array is there to make it easy to chat with other players. The point is to make headphones or earbuds unnecessary when playing so that it’s like they are in the room. There are reasons to believe there will be a voice assistant in the console, though. The haptic feedback for the controller in the patent, for instance, makes much more sense for voice controls than it does for conversation. More to the point, Sony patented a design for a voice assistant last fall named the PlayStation Assist. The Assist is an AI that would talk with a player during a game and manage the console while providing tips and tricks to a game without requiring the player pause play.
The other reason to suspect a voice assistant will be a part of the PlayStation 5 is that Sony will want to be competitive with other video game consoles that will include one. Google’s Stadia video game streaming platform has a button for Google Assistant, and Google has said the voice assistant would enhance Stadia in ways that include hints. Stadia hasn’t activated this feature yet, however. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been hinting at its own non-Cortana voice assistant plans for the upcoming version of the Xbox. The Xbox might use a new platform built by a startup like Fridai, which creates video game-specific voice assistants and recently joined the Microsoft for Startups accelerator. It could also turn to Google or Amazon’s respective voice assistants. Regardless, voice AI is going to be a part of the next wave of video game consoles, even if Sony won’t admit it yet.