Throughout the year there have been various announcements into what potential features Sony’s Dual Shock 4 for the PlayStation 4 may hold. One of those particular prototype features that caught my attention was a galvanic function in which sensors on the controller would read and react in game to individual player’s level of sweat, heart rate and muscle contraction. Your bodies’ bio-metric readings.
There have been a number patent applications for the various trials run by Sony. Lead PS4 designer Mark Cerny took the time to talk to Stuff and has stated the following:
“We had a long research project where we looked at pretty much any idea we could think of. Would it help to measure the galvanic response of the skin? We tried out a tremendous number of things – and then we went to the game teams to ask them what they thought they could use from the controller.”
Whilst it is quite clear these features didn’t make the final cut to the upcoming PS4 it does leave a lot to the imagination as to how a controller reading your body’s signals could affect your gaming experience. The possibilities seem endless to me:
Weapons could become less accurate or more accurate pending your heart rate, a slower heart rate generally meaning a calmer person could potentially allow for greater steady accuracy.This could even give you a fraction more time for aiming or making reactive decisions giving your calmer controlled heart a reward and the opposite could also be applied. Higher heart rate equals less time for reactions, much less steadiness on accuracy. Guns or knives could even have the off chance to slip out of your hands if the controller reads your sweat levels beyond a certain point. This would give the gamer a much deeper sense of realism and immersion in the various games being played.
This wouldn’t be something that would be restricted to shooting games by any means. It could relate to your steering wheel in any driving/racing game. Sweaty hands could make car control much more difficult and a lower heart rate allowing for a fraction more time to give a perfect gear change or that extra moment to dodge an oncoming vehicle or obstacle. What about games like the upcoming Infamous: Second Son or any of the Assassins Creed games. All which feature a strong emphasis on urban exploration by scaling buildings and man-made structures. Once again sweaty hands may cause a slip and fall and squeezing the controller as you brace for impact may provide less damage caused from the fall. Nothing extremely crucial but it allows for such a greater dimension of reality to gaming by taking in your individual readings.
Now, please allow me to really tell you why this feature interests and excites me so much, health and fitness. For so long now gaming has had such a major focus on its negative effects on human health, physically and mentally. Ranging from musculoskeletal problems, skin difficulties, vision impairments, psychological problems and the most publically targeted problem, obesity.
I realize this may not apply to everyone but what if the implement of Sony’s (for the moment) scrapped bio-metric controller provided enough motivation for gamers that are looking for an edge on their gaming opposition – This would be amazing for worldwide health statistics. What if for example a very serious Call of Duty player wanted to gain an edge, what if he went outside and jogged for half hour every day four times a week. This would not only help gain some essential Vitamin D for your skin but also help achieving some muscular tone to help support and strengthen the body. Not to mention also possibly shredding some unwanted fat, lowering obesity levels and the benefits of extended aerobic cardio vascular activity are a lowered heart rate. There are four target health problems kicked in the face all with one week of activity and that’s not to mention the feel good hormones everyone gets during and after any sort of workout boosting mental wellbeing. Even better participate in any form of physical activity with a mate to gain all the benefits and another level of exposure to social interaction.
An easy five health problems just got nipped in the bud and no one has even done anything extremely strenuous. Now I do understand that the mind frame previously stated may apply to only the most serious of gamers looking for an advantage in gaming. Let’s think about your average person, take me for instance. Working the standard 8-10 hour days, fitting in family time, time for gym workouts and time for footy (rugby league) coaching and playing. As a person who has maintained a high quality level of fitness and health throughout my life and feel extremely passionate about advising the benefits of health to those willing to listen. Though who is to say that average Joe’s like me cant gain half an advantage in competitive gaming by our better quality bio-metric readings as opposed to individuals who choose to sit in doors over long periods of time neglecting health needs and beneficial movements.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not interested in being given an advantage in competitive gaming not by any means as personally I don’t do any online gaming. I would just love to see gamers get up go outside do a little bit of physical activity to not only benefit themselves in the long run but to give gaming a much better and healthier name. I know getting up and going outside cant apply to everyone for their personal reasons and that this added incentive of an advantage in gaming will go un-noticed by a large portion of the gaming population. This is most likely is one of the reasons Sony haven’t stuck with their bio-controller just yet. Whilst I’m not sure if the bio-controllers would become the only controller variation on the market, I do applaud Sony for their desire to create such an innovative, society improving controller and hope to see it sooner rather than later for the benefit of gaming.