A banana as a PS5 controller? Here is the Sony patent

No, it is not an elongated controller: we are talking about the fruit. Sony has filed a patent in which it illustrates the use of a banana as a controller for the PS5 . A device that is anything but conventional that could revolutionize the production of peripherals for consoles, freeing us from the purchase of additional devices and systems . While there is still no information as to whether Sony is already working on the patent or not, the news has aroused a lot of curiosity. Using any object as a controller would eliminate the technical complexity of the hardware and the cost of producing it as well as purchasing it.

“New” controllers for the PS5: not just the banana

The patent does not only refer to the banana, but refers in general to any “passive non-luminous object held in the hand by the user” . The fruit is just one of the examples of the patent, which specifies that anything can be converted to a controller. The banana was chosen for its "ergonomic resemblance" to a dual stick, being elongated, easy to grasp entirely and with a sufficiently large surface.

A banana as a PS5 controller: a usage image from Sony's patent. Source: Polygon
A banana as a PS5 controller: a usage image from Sony's patent. Source: Polygon

The idea of ​​the patent consists in mapping the object through a video camera, so as to recognize the movements and interactions with it of the player, translating them into actions. We can imagine "virtual keys" placed on the object, placed in positions similar to the physical keys of normal PS5 controllers. The patent suggests the possibility of having the game follow training to recognize the objects that the user wants to use as a controller , or, on the contrary, offering the user objects already configured and easily available at home. The second approach would be simpler and less expensive, both for Sony and for the gamer.

The patent speaks of a pose detector used to identify the object by its shape , the space it occupies and its movements. The sensor would detect the contours of the object and, through a machine learning algorithm, would record the movements of the banana (or orange, or whatever) by associating them with specific commands. For example, placing the object on a surface would mean pausing the game. The controller could also consist of multiple objects: two bananas used as guns, or two oranges transformed into a steering wheel.

The objects could also be used in pairs and their "relative" movements would also be calculated. Source: Playstation Bit
The objects could also be used in pairs and their "relative" movements would also be calculated. Source: Playstation Bit

The system must be able to identify the movements of the object and translate them into input for the game , recording any changes in inclination and position. To do this it is necessary to use a video camera capable of recognizing the movements and translating them into the desired output. Sony's PlayStation Eye works similar to the kind of peripheral it would take to use the object controller. The technology proposed by the patent would make use of a more advanced and improved tool than the Eye, able to adapt to (almost) any type of shape and size.

The controller-objects: a videogame revolution

This technology could revolutionize the console market . On sale there are many additional peripherals that complete the gaming experience, making it more immersive and fluid. Clearly, the purchase involves costs that not everyone can afford to face, and in some cases the player's abilities are limited by this difficulty, preventing him from competing with others or from fully enjoying the video game. We must also consider that the peripherals must be recharged regularly and this often limits the gaming experience , making it more tiring.

The PlayStation VR is the emblem of the use of peripherals for the gaming experience. Source: Tom's Hardware
The PlayStation VR is the emblem of the use of peripherals for the gaming experience. Source: Tom's Hardware

The idea of ​​the patent is to eliminate the problem of additional purchases and maintenance of peripherals , making them accessible to all. A banana or any other object will never have the problem of the battery, and in many cases even that of deterioration: if one fruit rot, another like it would be taken. The PlayStation VR would be among the first to benefit from the technology, already having a camera for the recognition of movements, but eliminating the use of proprietary controllers.

It would be desirable that a user could use a cheap, simple and non-electronic device as a peripheral for a video game.

Timothy Edward Bradley, David Erwan Damien Uberti

The patent was published on July 15, 2020 but has only started circulating in these days. Released on the sly, Sony's system is making a lot of talk about the implications it would bring if it were developed and commercialized. Technology is in constant turmoil and the world of video games is also benefiting from it. Maybe, in a few years, we won't even remember the controllers .

The article A banana as a PS5 controller? Here is Sony's patent comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .