The Haptic feedback technology company, Immersion Corp, has announced that they have signed an agreement with Sony to license their “advanced haptics” patent portfolio. The company stated that Sony can use this to leverage their technology for “gaming controllers and VR controllers.”
Immersion Corp has stated that such technology could be used to simulate “sensations of pushing, pulling, grasping, and pulsing” while Sony more vaguely and simply stated that it “enhances the sense of presence and immersion.”
What some people may not know is that Immersion Corp doesn’t actually manufacture the hardware for haptic feedback. The company certifies suitable hardware, and licenses its software and more than 3,500 issued or pending patents to companies wanting to add haptics to their products.
Immersion Corp claims there are now three billion devices worldwide using their haptic technology today. Most notably, the company’s “TouchSense” software is used in the Nintendo Switch gaming console as part of the “HD Rumble” features.
The current PlayStation VR motion controller though (PlayStation Move) just uses a simple rumble motor much like standard gamepads. That’s in contrast to the linear resistant actuators (LRAs) used on the Oculus Touch and HTC Vive controllers, which was also used in the Nintendo Switch. LRAs offer lower latency and finer control over vibration frequency.
Given this and the other limitations of the PS Move controllers, Sony would almost certainly include new controllers alongside a “PSVR 2” release. How far out in the future that will be is unclear, of course … However, Sony has already confirmed that the PS5 will be compatible with PSVR, so there’s a chance they may upgrade the device to utilize Immersion Corp’s technology in the near future. Also, it’s entirely possible that PS5’s standard gamepad may also take advantage of haptic technology, whether that be the DualShock 5 or something else entirely different. But it’s possible that this patent acquisition is likely a step toward the development of said next generation VR controllers. As much as I like my PSVR headset, a new and wireless PSVR 2 headset would be nice.
Speaking of which, Sony’s next-generation console is not slated for release until after April 2020 — which means it’ll probably turn up in November of next year. So, if a PSVR 2 was supposed to release, it would be around the launch of the PS5 or a bit after … but I am just guessing here.
We’ve been given a glimpse at what these controllers might look like in Sony’s own patents. The first patent was filed in early 2018, and then a refined version of the same design again in February of this year. The patents describe a worn controller (similar to Valve Index Controllers) with hand detection and trigger resistance. If Sony could also integrate advanced haptic feedback, it could result in a truly next-generation VR controller.
This is something to keep an eye on when it comes to Sony, as it has been well known that players have been wanting different controllers for PSVR for quite some time now. From the look and sound of things, this might be it!