One of the features of the new PS5 DualSense controller that doesn’t quite have people talking yet—despite that being its very purpose—is the microphone array built right into the controller. Sony’s reveal glossed over this point, simply saying that it would allow users to talk without a headset, but the DualSense mic array actually carries a lot of capabilities, if a patent published earlier this week is to be believed.
SegementNext discovered the patent, filed back in February but published on Monday. It details the array of microphones, which features at least three mics built into the controller. These mics work together to cancel noises from the environment and isolate audio from the user specifically. Multiple microphones work in the same way that a human’s ears do to identify positioning of sound using the timing of the vibrations reaching the ear. With Sony’s intense focus on the audio experience on the PS5 itself, it makes sense that some of that R&D would also translate into the mic array built into the controller.
From the full text of the patent:
When three or more microphones are included in the array of microphones, it is possible to determine the location of a sound source relative to the microphone array [that] can be localized based on the relative timing of its sound as captured by each of the microphones.
Taken in combination with the known location and orientation of the controller (as determined based on sensors and tracking methods) and by extension the known location and orientation of the microphone array, then the location of the sound source within the interactive environment can be determined.
Furthermore, captured sound can be processed to exclude sounds which do not emanate from a certain region of the interactive environment.
SegementNext also notes a portion of the patent that talks about use with multiple users and controllers, allowing the DualSense to eliminate crosstalk coming from other players and DualSense mic arrays.
Moreover, when multiple controllers are utilized, then the captured audio data from the multiple controllers can be analyzed in combination, along with the locations and orientations of the controllers, to enable determination of the locations from which sounds originate with high levels of accuracy.
The patent seems to suggest that use of the onboard mic array won’t be as much of a disaster as it seems. Hypothetically, if everything works as the patent says, it should eliminate things like players’ TV audio or music coming through chat, isolation the audio to just the user’s voice from behind the DualSense.
There’s also some thoughts that the DualSense mic array is for more than just voice chat, with patents last year hinting that the PS5 might have a kind of voice assistant. The PS4 does have some limited voice interaction functionality, but it largely goes unused. Having the mic built right into the controller could provide Sony with just what it needs to invest further in this feature.
There’s been a lot of coverage of the DualSense since its reveal this week. Sony confirmed that the controller will have a headphone input. Players see the trigger design as a big flaw, but the adaptive triggers could solve that issue. Bethesda’s Pete Hines has gotten his hands on the controller and came away “very impressed.”