Sony Designing Biometric Controllers for PS3, PSP, Vita

Published 3 years ago by

Considering the popularity of the Wii, Kinect, and PlayStation Move, it would seem that handheld controllers where button mashing is the only skill involved might someday die-out completely, though don’t expect that Elijah Wood and his friend will chastise you for using your hands, even 3 years from now.

Sony’s newest contraption — biometrics in their controllers for both the PS3 and PSP — is the latest move in the motion-controlled battle between the three giant gaming corporations (see also: Nintendo’s failed Vitality Sensor).

Sony recently applied for a patent and revealed their plans. Some of the specifications below are strikingly similar to the PS Vita. There are also design schematics for a biometric DualShock3 controller and a PlayStation Move style wand.

Supposedly, Sony’s biometric controller will measure three different factors for gamers using it: galvanic skin resistance (moisture level of skin), electro-cardio data (heart rhythm), and electro-muscular data (muscle movements). All of this information will be sent to the game one is playing by simply holding the controller. Sony has listed ideas for how they anticipate this will work:

  • Weapons that change in quality dependent upon the gamer’s stress level. An increase in stress level could make a weapon more accurate or less steady, which will make it difficult to target an enemy. Sony specifically mentions a sniper situation where the weapon becomes steadier if the player relaxed.
  • Tensing up of muscles in order to withstand an attack or to charge up a shield.
  • A video game character whose facial expressions, movements, posture, and even voice changes is dependent upon the gamer’s biometric data. For example, this character will sweat when a player is nervous.
  • An adrenaline style boost which will let the player run faster, jump higher, and punch harder when stressed.
  • A health bar that depletes more rapidly if the player has a high stress level.
  • An attack button that changes a character’s move depending if the player is stressed or relaxed.
  • Background music and scenery that changes depending on your stress level. Matching music is one example, but Sony also proposes to change music to make a player more relaxed. Brightness of objects and the zoom level, representing a higher level of focus, are two ideas for scenery.
  • A game that adapts difficulty levels depending on a players stress level.

Neat idea in the conceptual design, but there are a few concerns with the implementation. First, I personally know people who are always calm but have extremely sweaty hands, regardless of the situation. Is the controller going to be able to recognize the difference between genetics and legitimate stress? Secondly, what about false-positive readings? Would the control (and thus the game) interpret the signals as player-related stress? I’m also not a big fan of a depleting health bar. I’d hate to see Ezio’s health squares deteriorate because I have to chase down and tackle an escaping thief and Ezio’s insistence on getting hung up on fences causes me to stress, which causes him to lose health. Honestly, it’s hard to see a correlation between a player’s level of stress and Ezio’s health, especially when they are inversely proportional. I can understand why Sony thought it would be a good idea; I simply don’t agree with it.

Some of these ideas are sound, and increasing technology is usually a good benefit to gamers. This gamer, though, hopes that if this becomes mainstream there will be the ability to turn it off. I may be a dinosaur, but there still is something romantic about button-mashing without having to wonder if Commander Shepard is going to miss that Geth’s flashlight head because I just spilled my drink all over the sofa.

Do you like this concept?

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Source: Siliconera

TAGS: Move, PS3, PSP, Sony, Vita

  • ios

    Must be all for new gamers…I do not have any stress Levels playing my games ! Too Bad !

  • DarthMalnu

    The first thing that comes to mind is I’m playing a game and my son jumps on me and suddenly my character can’t shoot right. In game penalties for high stress levels will only lead to higher stress levels. I don’t know why developers insist that the controller BE the game these days. To me the whole point of the controller is that you don’t even notice it’s there. It takes me out of the experience when I’m reminded that the character on screen is being puppeteered instead of just existing on it’s own. It’s the same reason why I hate motion controls and QTEs.

  • Chris

    I personally like the sounds of this a lot 😛 adds a new depth to the game. PS4 innovation anyone?

  • dgfgh
  • Poncho

    Wasn’t too interested when Nintendo revealed the Vitality Sensor, so this doesn’t interest me either.

  • Gehrich

    Sniping and GOOD horror games are the only things I can think this will work well with.
    My main concern is, like the naturally sweaty palms, that some people like myself have naturally stiff and tense muscles. I don’t want my genetics to interfere with my gaming experience so I won’t be buying this unless I’m sure they make a way to adjust or sense that I normally have light amounts of palm sweat and difficulty relaxing my muscles.

  • CelestOrion

    Personally, I find this idea to be quite exciting. I’ve been button-mashing since 1991, and I’m an advocate for radical changes in gaming. Sure, there will be a lot of factors that can hamper how the device would read, but that simply comes with the territory.

  • Zoloft

    I think this would be neat at first, but would lose its appeal. While advancements in tech is interesting, a believe certain levels of game-play, should remain just where they are, in the game. Having the actual player as a vital aspect of the game experience leaves a lot of room for failure. Different people react to different stimuli and have varying levels of stress. The only way it could possibly work is if the game could “know” a player by a biological profile of some sort.

    And personally, I’d rather my game console not know me as, “The player with soft, calm hands”.