When it comes to unique ways to control your games, companies are always looking for the next best thing. This year, touch-screen support is popular. Not only does the Wii U offer a huge touch-screen controller, but the PS4 DualShock controller offers a touch pad. Heck, even Microsoft is getting in on the action with its SmartGlass technology, which allows users to turn their touch devices (phones, tablets, etc.) into controller options. Of course, when Sony was looking for ways to make its controller “stand out,” the touch pad was not originally the only innovation it was planning to bring to the table. In fact, at one point Sony was planning to monitor how much you sweat when playing video games.
In an interview with Mark Cerny, the lead system architect for the PlayStation 4, Stuff.tv found out that Sony actually trialed a number of different features. In the end, a number of these different features ended up being discarded. One of the more fascinating features could measure a player’s “galvanic skin response,” which is a measure of how conductive your skin is at any given time. So what does this mean? In short, the conductivity of your skin varies depending on how much you are sweating. When the human body becomes stressed, it tends to sweat more. As a result, galvanic skin responses are often used as part of a lie-detecting test.
During the interview, Cerny said that they had a very long research project in the works. They looked at a number of really good ideas, some even seemed like they were right out of a science fiction movie. When it came to the galvanic response feature, Sony contacted a number of development studios to find out what they thought about adding such a feature to a controller. In the end, the stress-sensing skin sensors just did not make the cut.
Although the skin sensors were left out, Cerny believes they were still a good idea. These sensors would have been able to tell when a player was getting stressed or scared while playing a game. By using this information, the game would have been able to adjust itself accordingly. For example, when playing a horror game, if the player was scared in real life, then the player’s avatar on-screen could become afraid as well.
Of course, there were still a number of other improvements made to the PS4 controller besides just adding a touch pad. For example, Cerny said that Sony has always received a lot of feedback that its controllers are not ideal for playing first-person shooters. This was something that Sony really wanted to fix. In order to do that, it had to change up the controller a bit. It had to test the triggers, where these triggers were positioned and just how much pressure it takes to press them. It also had to look at the joysticks and figure out where all the dead spots were. After fixing all of these things, using the controller just feels natural for first-person shooters.
So how does Cerny feel about the new PS4 controller? Well, he said that he has not heard a negative comment about the controller so far from the people who have used it. It may have not been released to the public yet, but a number of people have already had hands-on time with the new controller. So far, everything looks like it is falling into place just perfectly.
There have been other announced add-ons in the past that were supposed to do the same thing as the discarded PS4 controller sensors. Take the Wii for example. The Wii had its own canceled add-on: the vitality senor. If the gamer was put his finger into the vitality senor, the Wii would be able to read his heart rate. Although this was originally being made to go along with Wii Fit, Nintendo believed that the add-on could have been used for other games as well.