A Sony patent shows that the new DualSense could include improved analog sticks that utilize hydraulics for precise input.
Both the PS5 and DualSense have had quite a few issues since launch. A lawsuit is currently underway alleging the released console has known flaws.Meanwhile, DualSense has not escaped the drift issue, with a class action lawsuit filed last year by a U.S. law firm (via IGN (opens in new tab)).This seems to have failed, the relevant page has been changed from Company website (opens in new tab). But the controller drift problem (and being sued for it) could be a thing of the past for Sony.
subway (opens in new tab) found one patent (opens in new tab) Sony claims a controller with a “foldable joystick that uses fluid.” The fluids in question are non-Newtonian fluids – think custard, ketchup, quicksand. Or in this case, something that isn’t a condiment, dessert, or mini death trap. It is a fluid that changes viscosity under force. For example, the ketchup gets thinner when you shake it.And you can fill a pool with custard and run over it without sinking, which is perfect proof of that Brainiac: Science Abuse Episode (opens in new tab).
The section of the patent that dives into the background of the invention separates the joystick, analog nub, and thumbstick. It breaks down comfort and portability for everyone, then concludes:
“The thumb stick is more comfortable for the user than the analog nub and smaller than the joystick, but still not very portable. The thumb stick’s protrusions stick out from the controller surface and are easy to grab [in] Clothes or other thin materials make the thumbstick prone to breakage.
“It is in this context that embodiments of the present invention arise.”
Above is a retractable analog stick with no non-Newtonian fluids. In this case, the shaft is retracted into the thumbstick body, and both are “freely rotatable together about a pivot center within the controller body.”
The following figure is a diagram depicting the inclusion of non-Newtonian fluids in the controller. The thumbstick shaft of the entire body “includes the liquid interface surface” with a cavity filled with a non-Newtonian fluid.
If the user wants to retract the rocker, “slow pressure can be applied to the rocker shaft” to “move the non-Newtonian fluid into the reservoir”. On the other hand, a quick and powerful push will have the opposite effect.
“Due to the nature of non-Newtonian fluids, rapid application of pressure to the thumbstick shaft causes the non-Newtonian fluid to increase in viscosity and the fluid is not displaced.
“As a result, the thumbstick shaft does not retract into the thumbstick body during use because the pressure applied during use is not slow enough to displace the non-Newtonian fluid.”
But what does this mean for actual everyday use of the new and improved PS5 DualSense?
DualSense’s input controls can be greatly improved with improved analog sticks. Joysticks are usually used for movement and aiming, so these can become more subtle.
Given the collapsible aspect of the design, they can also be used to insert additional “enter buttons”. They can provide a wider range of motion and control in sports games, flight simulators, and more.
What this means for games that currently use L3 and R3 inputs — especially if it somehow goes against the way these new analog sticks work in terms of speed and power — we don’t know. But we don’t see Sony releasing a DualSense Pro that isn’t compatible with the PS5’s current catalog of titles.
Of course, the existence of a patent doesn’t mean we’ll see the idea implemented in a physical product. But it’s interesting to see what’s brewing in Sony’s head anyway.