New PSVR controllers suggest PS5 headset won’t need external sensors


One month after officially announcing a new generation of PlayStation VR hardware for the PS5, Sony today revealed additional details of the new handheld controllers designed to work with the upcoming unit.
As previously announced, the new controllers integrate some of the unique features of the PS5’s standard DualSense controllers. That includes adaptive triggers that can apply variable tension depending on the in-game situation, as shown off in PS5 games like Astro’s Playroom. The new PSVR controllers also feature haptic feedback that has been “optimized for its form factor.” That tech seems positioned to go beyond the generalized rumbling of earlier controllers to make “every sensation in the game world more impactful, textured, and nuanced,” as Sony puts it.

The new PSVR controller also mirrors features found on other virtual reality controllers like the Oculus Touch, including the “orb” shape created by the hand-circling tracking ring. The new controller comes with “finger detection” for the thumb, index, and middle fingers when they rest on the appropriate parts of the controller, no button-press necessary. A “grip button” on the inner edge of each handheld controller can also be accessed by the middle finger to pick up in-game objects. Sony also promises that the controller is “well-balanced and comfortable” in tests with “a range of hand sizes.”

Each controller also features an analog stick and two full-sized face buttons, a significant upgrade from the aging PlayStation Move wands. Those Move controllers were originally designed for use with the PlayStation Move camera and flat-screen PS3 games back in 2010 and were somewhat awkward when called into hand-tracking service for many original PlayStation VR games.

Sony also confirmed today that the new controllers will be “tracked by the VR headset,” suggesting that users won’t need a PS5 HD camera or any other external sensor to make use of hand-tracking in 3D space. It’s not clear yet if the headset itself will use an external camera for tracking, but current standalone headsets like the Oculus Quest line have shown it’s possible to get quality head tracking in affordable headsets that exclusively use internal sensors.

While the PS4’s DualShock controller was used for limited positional tracking (and analog stick/button access) in many PSVR games, the new controllers look like they should be able to fully replace this case on the PS5. The fate of PSVR’s existing gun-like Aim controller is also unclear under the new hardware.

PlayStation VR’s millions of sales have made it a relative success in the still-niche world of gaming virtual reality. But the hardware’s limited attach rate (when compared with the total universe of PS4 owners) puts it somewhere in the range of failed add-ons like the Sega CD and 32X.

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