The PS5 is set to be a phenomenal machine. Although the outer casing has not been officially revealed yet, we do know a lot about the inner workings of the console: the PlayStation 5 will support 8K graphics with next-generation ray-tracing and revolutionary 3D audio, in a setup that looks set to challenge the Xbox Series X.
There's also the PS5's DualSense controller, a gamepad with haptic feedback triggers and an all-new ergonomic design, which was revealed in a blog post earlier this month. The feedback triggers, along with a new Create button, look set to change the way you game by creating touch-sensitive tension when performing certain in-game tasks.
However, bar an official reveal, there's still so much we don't know. For instance, in a reveal nobody saw coming, a patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (opens in new tab) showed Sony Interactive Entertainment is looking at a "human-type, pet-type robot" with a "feeling deduction unit".
The robot, which in an initial sketch by Sony looks a bit like a cloud with eyes and limbs, is eerily blank, a bit reminiscent of the old Moomin comics.
But the robot is a lot more than a Furby-esque companion to happily sit and watch TV with you. The patent says the following:
"A user places a robot nearby and views contents together, while the robot communicates with the user by outputting a reaction to empathise with the user or outputting a reaction against the user conversely, on the basis of a deduced user's feeling,"
Essentially, it watches you game, or watches you watch movies or TV, and expresses fear, sadness or happiness by deducing your feelings and mimicking them. It then begins "determining an action of the object on a basis of the internal state of the object; and causing the object to perform the determined action".
We read that as follows: it studies you while you play a game or watch a film. It deduces your feelings, and records what caused those feelings (the "object" and "determined action"). Presumably, this data can be used to create better, emotion-inducing content later down the line.
It's said to perform several other functions, including acting as a "virtual object" to physically interact with during VR experiences on PS5. What that means, we're not sure: that's fine if we're playing VR LittleBigPlanet and it pretends to be Sackboy, but we shudder to imagine what the robot will do if we put on VR Silent Hill.
Would you buy a PlayStation robot to sit and watch you game? It's all a bit creepy, but it's not too far removed from what we have now: every smart speaker records your commands, just like Google logs your search history. Is a robot designed to sit in the corner and watch your every move such a giant leap?
We must stress this is a patent, and it does not mean the little "human-type" robot will ever go into production. However, in the not-too-distant future, we could all have a little robot in our front rooms, just sitting. And watching. And waiting...