A recently discovered Sony patent suggests that the company may be working on a gaming controller with a builtin touchscreen display. It’s possible that this design is for the Dualshock 5, a reiteration of the Dualshock 4, or simply a placeholder for future use.
Discovered by Reddit user AlphaFoxWarfare, the patent was officially filed on October 16th, 2018, under the name Sony Interactive Entertainment America, owners of the PlayStation brand. Here’s a short passage from the patent describing the touchscreen gaming controller:
“A controller for interfacing wirelessly with a computing device is provided, including the following: a housing defined by a main body, a first extension extending from a first end of the main body, and a second extension extending from a second end of the main body, the first extension and the second extension for holding by a first hand and a second hand of a user, respectively; a touchscreen defined along the top surface of the main body between the first extension and the second extension; a first set of buttons disposed on the top surface of the main body proximate to the first extension and on a first side of the touchscreen; and a second set of buttons disposed on the top surface of the main body proximate to the second extension and on a second side of the touchscreen.”
This image pulled from the patent visually describes the functionality of the controller with the help of some fairly low resolution graphics.
Needless to say, the implementation of a touchscreen will heavily impact the battery life of the controller. I’d estimate that the controller would struggle to last even a few hours on a full charge, and that number would only decrease over the years. The touchpad seen on the Dualshock 3 wasn’t exactly a welcome change, as users are calling it an unnecessary “supersized select button.” Depending on how it functions, a touchscreen display on a controller might end up causing more harm than good.