A new patent from Sony Interactive Entertainment reveals a detachable controller pad that could make games easier to play for gamers who are blind or have low vision.
The device as outlined in the patent looks like a rectangle with rounded edges (and sometimes a button, depending on which illustration). It’s designed to either be fitted over or replace entirely the DualShock 4 controller’s standard touchpad, with some key additions. They include a series of haptic feedback mechanisms, such as localized rumble and pins that push up a flexible layer, to give players tactile feedback from the game. Though all the illustrations use a DualShock 4, the patent confirms it could also be used with PS5.
The primary example cited in the patent is the Huldra Shop screen from God of War. With its small text scattered across multiple windows, it could be difficult to parse with standard accessibility tools like an in-game magnifier. The fact that the shop is part of the game world with its own dialogue also interferes with automated text-to-speech solutions, causing players to miss out on incidental dialogue or have to sit through repeated readings of the same information.
The detachable pad could output braille versions of the on-screen information, even including its own little control input to advance through text. It could also create tactile versions of in-game symbols and even animate them; for example, a series of arrows moving upward across the pad could indicate that a piece of gear will improve your stats. The pad would still support touch feedback, so you could use it to make choices as well as reading through them.
Though the tactile pad would normally be fitted over or in place of the touchpad, the patent also confirms that it could be mounted to different areas of the controller to support comfortably reading text with fingers rather than thumbs. All that said, as is usual for patents, this is not a confirmation that Sony will ever actually make a product resembling this particular invention.
With the Xbox Adaptive Controller already helping to make games more accessible, it’d be cool if this became an area of focus as we move to next-gen consoles.