Before Sony came to the final design that we see today, the PlayStation 4 had some other interesting features that didn’t quite make the cut. One of them was the ability to measure the galvanic response of your skin as you held it.
Lead system architect for the PS4, Mark Cerny, revealed in an interview that the company tried a “tremendous amount of things” before settling on the current DualShock 4:
“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.”
That feature would have enabled the controller to detect how much your hands were sweating from playing a game. Theoretically, that would mean that it could sense whether or not a particular game or section of a game was stressing you out. One example of implementing this feature would be to ratchet up the intensity or difficulty in action games if the controller didn’t sense you were “stressed” enough. While stress might sound like a bad thing to strive for, it could lead to some exciting moments for the player that could ultimately increase their enjoyment of a game.
But in the end, Cerny decided that based on player feedback, it would be best to evolve the controller in such a way that it would be better suited for playing shooters:
“Historically we have heard many times that our controllers have not been ideal for first-person shooters, so we wanted to make sure we had something that would be much better for that genre.
We tested the throw of the triggers, the position of the triggers, how much pressure it takes. We looked at the joysticks, the dead spot, we looked at convexity and concavity. [It] feels extraordinarily natural.”
It was probably the right decision to make, too. Those who have been able to have hands-on time with the controller usually note that it feels much improved from the previous generation. Some even go as far as saying that it’s much better than Microsoft’s Xbox One controller.
We’ll find out for ourselves this holiday, when the two consoles are slated to hit stores.
Note: If you find Cerny’s thoughts on the development of the PlayStation 4 interesting, I suggest watching his ‘Road to PS4’ talk. Lots of great insights from a really intelligent man.