Taking on New Challenges with Haptics
—A Technology that Stimulates the Sense of Touch,
One of the Five Senses
December 2, 2020
Creating a kando experience that goes beyond reality
Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has introduced haptics technologies in the DualSense controller for the PlayStation®5. Haptics is a technology that digitally recreates the sensation of touching an object. Through this technology, we will deliver realistic experiences and a sense of wonder to even more people.
Development Dept. #1
Global R&D Tokyo Division
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Implementing Haptics technologies for DualSense,
the PS5’s new wireless controller
──What kind of technology is haptics?
Humans experience touch, one of the five senses, through a variety of stimulating elements such as vibration, pressure, texture and temperature. Haptics is a technology that stimulates the sense of touch. Since I studied haptics when I was a student and joined the company at a time when the development of DualSense was being accelerated, I had the opportunity to get involved in the practical applications of haptics technologies for DualSense.
──Tell us briefly about the DualSense.
The DualSense wireless controller offers an experience unique to PlayStation®5. It is an innovated version of the DualShock®4 wireless controller for PlayStation®4, which garnered a lot of positive feedback from gamers and game creators. Aiming to captivate more of the players’ senses, we offer game creators the ability to explore how they can heighten the feeling of immersion by incorporating the sense of touch.
──Specifically, what features does it have?
With two new features, haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, DualSense is able to offer more realistic and immersive tactile feedback. Haptic feedback adds a variety of powerful sensations to gameplay, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud, the small impact of an object hitting the surface or the recoil of shooting a gun. Adaptive triggers have also been incorporated into the L2 and R2 buttons so that players can truly feel a sense of tension in actions such as drawing a bow to shoot an arrow. Depending on the ideas of game creators, it also has the potential to produce a wide variety of other sensations in combination with visual and sounds effects and other game features.
The new wireless DualSense controller for PS5
Offering game creators
an environment to easily incorporate haptics
──What did you focus on in developing the DualSense?
Although DualSense allows for more realistic game experiences, creators will also need more time and know-how to create high quality vibrations. To reduce this burden, we have created a haptic vibration waveform design environment that anyone can use easily. In this way, we have not only developed a tool that allows game creators to design an impactful, natural and comfortable vibration waveform in fewer steps, but also created a method of almost automatically generating vibration patterns from a game’s sound effects.
──We heard there were some difficulties during the development.
Yes. The automatic generation method was developed with a focus on deep neural network technology, but the problem was that there were few past studies that applied this technology to the sense of touch rather than to images and sounds. In the beginning, we spent many days just agonizing over the data. Later, we studied and examined different algorithms while getting advice from experts. This allowed us to automate the generation of high-quality vibration waveforms to a certain extent, making it look as if they were created manually by the creators.
Creating extraordinary kando experiences
──What do you like most about your R&D work? What do you enjoy about working in the Sony Group?
At SIE’s R&D department, we have a certain degree of leeway when choosing a field of study. If you can produce good results, then you will have many opportunities to promote your research, such as making proposals to commercialize the product, applying for patents, publishing a thesis or even exhibiting at internal technical exchange meetings. Many young employees are entrusted with large and important projects, which raises our motivation. Best of all, it is highly rewarding to work on the PlayStation® platform, which has over 100 million users worldwide. Sony Group has a diverse range of human resources and experts, and I think the synergy created by its cross-organizational developments and projects is a major strength. It seems that there are still very few female engineers, but I have never experienced any difficulties because of that. Currently, internal systems and infrastructures are being set up to promote more flexible work styles. You might say that this is to be expected, but I am proud to be part of a group that makes good on these commitments.
──Lastly, what would you like to achieve in the future?
In the future I want to develop new technologies and content that bring me a step closer to my childhood dream of “completely immersing myself in a game and becoming a different person.” The audio, visual and VR technologies that Sony has been cultivating over the years are significant technological assets that allow us to immerse ourselves in a different world. I would like to combine haptics and other new technologies to create a kando experience that makes us forget about reality and transports us through our five senses.