Sony has filed a patent for an in-built microphone on a controller for the purpose of receiving voice commands, and while it hasn't been confirmed that it's for use with the PlayStation 5, it would make a lot of sense given what we've already heard about the upcoming PS5 console and its controller.
The DualShock 5 - as it appears to be called - is already shaking things up on the design front with the introduction of a pair of back buttons, which have since made their way to the existing DualShock 4 controllers via the new Back Button Attachment. The light bar also looks to have been scrapped, perhaps making more space for something else inside the peripheral - like the on-board mic.
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According to the patent, the controller will feature "a controller device that is held by a user's hand, including a microphone, a tactile presentation device that presents a tactile sense to the user's hand, and a speaker," and goes on to explain that when players are giving voice commands via the mic, "the sound of the speaker is suppressed, and tactile presentation control by the tactile presentation device is performed." So essentially, this will work like a smart speaker.
The feature would be an ideal way for players to utilise the PlayStation Assist - an AI assistant designed to offer in-game help, so if you're wondering where the nearest health pack is, you can just ask your controller, and it'll give you the answer. You won't have to fumble about for your phone and scroll through pages of search results anymore.
With a functionality similar to a smart speaker, it would make sense that PlayStation Assist would always be listening in a similar way to Google Assistant or Siri, but presumably is this is the case, it can be deactivated. The pros of having an on-board mic in the controller is that it's not reliant on everyone plugging in a headset to use, and is a much more organic way to interact with the assistance, given the prevalence of other digital assistants and how we're used to interacting with them on daily basis.
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As always, the existence of a patent doesn't mean this is a sure thing, or that we should start jumping to conclusions, but it certainly would be a good fit going on everything else we've heard about the console and controller so far.
We're expecting the PS5 to be unveiled at an event next month on February 5, if the rumours are to be believed so there may only be a couple of weeks left before we have all of the official information straight from the horses mouth.