The PS5 and its peripherals are not cheap. After all, the unit costs at least $450 to produce. But perhaps one of the most expensive parts of the PS5 bundle is its controller. The DualSense supports two new technologies — advanced haptic feedback and adaptive triggers — and is extremely pricey when bought separately ($70).
However, Sony recently filed for an interesting patent that could make PS5 controllers a lot more accessible.
Introducing: The Banana Controller
Earlier this month, Sony sent over a patent application for what seems to be a banana with buttons. It’s meant to show off the company’s plan to turn a “non-luminous passive object being held by a user” into a controller, projecting virtual buttons on top of it as shown in the photos.
Sony is also looking into whether they can turn non-electronic things into input devices, for example: bananas pic.twitter.com/HeMbNZi2qC
— Nibel (@Nibellion) March 3, 2021
Allegedly, the technology could detect the user’s finger placements as they hold the object. If we were to base this description on the pictures provided, moving the left thumb could trigger the “enter” button.
“It would be desirable if a user could use an inexpensive, simple, and non-electronic device as a video game peripheral,” the patent application mentions. “The present disclosure seeks to address or at least alleviate some of the above-identified problems.”
How Will it Work?
While it’s not clear how Sony will make the technology, this proposal is not exactly the first time a gaming console used a camera to register a controller without the physical object. The Xbox 360’s Kinect did the same thing. The Xbox Kinect used an infrared projector to sense that people were in the room, using their body parts as the controller. It uses a modern PCB where all components are located in one structure. The decreased latency from having the parts close together enabled the Kinect to register the user with a quick wave of their hand.
This new Sony sensor could be a more advanced version of the Kinect. Aside from an infrared projector, however, it could also use something similar to an ultrasonic sensor — technology that reads objects using sound waves. This may allow the camera to sense the object the user is holding and assign virtual buttons for it.
Other Potential Uses
Of course, just because a patent has been filed for it doesn’t mean that the technology is already in production. Then again, if the design doesn’t get released as an alternative PS5 controller, it has the potential to be used for virtual reality (VR). To play VR on the PS4, gamers have to buy a separate PlayStation VR set, costing them an additional $300.
But if something like a banana controller is possible, this could remove the need to buy extra VR accessories. Gamers won’t be able to play with a headset, however, they will have motion controls covered, lowering the barrier of entry to VR console gaming.
In any case, it’s too early to tell what Sony plans to do with this design or what the end product is going to look like. However, the patent alone is a testament to the unexplored possibilities of technologies in gaming.
For more PS5 news and gaming guides, check out some of the other posts on our gaming blog.