Sony could detect PlayStation users based on how they hold a controller

A not too long ago authorized Sony patent identifies an issue many console players could possibly determine with when shifting between consoles: “To log in to their account a user is often required to enter a password, which may be seen by other users. Moreover, once a user has entered their password, a situation arises where the user remains logged into their account unless the user subsequently performs a log out operation, which can result in other user’s [sic] potentially obtaining access to the user’s profile.”

Luckily, Sony’s patent for an “apparatus, system, and method of authentication” additionally provides an answer: a brand new technique for “determining an identity of a user holding a handheld controller” by detecting and analyzing that consumer’s distinctive “manipulations of the controller.”

Controller fingerprinting?

The full patent, filed by Sony in February and authorized by the US Patent Office late final week (and first unearthed by SegmentNext), particulars how this detection system would depend on measurements of the controller’s place, orientation, and the “closed or open state of a pressure sensitive switch” (i.e. pushing the controller’s buttons). Analyzing how these values change over time for various customers throughout normal gameplay can present a singular signature, the patent suggests, which may be acknowledged the subsequent time they decide up a controller.

By manner of instance, the patent means that, for a sure participant, “the left-hand side of the controller may be slightly elevated with respect to the right-hand side of the controller” on common. For one other, “the user’s height may mean the user has a tendency to hold the controller at a certain vertical position.”

The manner gamers transfer a controller over time additionally feeds into the detection algorithm. “Some users may have a greater tendency than others to move their arms and hands while using the controller,” the patent says. The technique may be capable to detect distinctive “small variations (micro variations) in accelerometer and/or gyroscope readings indicative of certain motions of the controller when operated by a given user.”

How it really works

The uncooked information for Sony’s patented detection technique might come from any variety of sensors, together with gyroscopes, accelerometers, and/or magnetometers (as discovered within the DualShock 4); lights tracked by a digital camera (à la PlayStation Move); and/or a head-mounted show (à la PlayStation VR). The information might even come from peripherals exterior to the precise controller, the patent suggests, comparable to “a wristband or armband” that tracks the consumer’s motion.

During gameplay, the patented system would use these sensors to measure the controller’s place, acceleration, angular velocity, orientation, movement, and the exact size of time the participant pushes the controller’s buttons. The algorithm then calculates abstract statistics (e.g. minimal, most, imply, median, variance, normal deviation, deciles, and so forth.) for all of those values, thus making a profile of how that consumer typically manipulates the controller.

When an unidentified consumer picks up a controller later, the system analyzes the identical controller motion information over a sequence of quick “time buckets.” That information is then in contrast with the universe of identified customers (both domestically or probably over a server) to find out a “degree of match” for every identified profile. That worth is predicated on which combos of information factors are distinctive sufficient to differentiate that consumer from “the plurality of users.”

If the diploma of match surpasses a sure “confidence threshold,” the system can mechanically log the consumer in to the matched account or present an on-screen immediate to do the identical.

The patent suggests the detection algorithm might run periodically all through a play session to detect when a controller will get handed off from one participant to a different, for instance, or when a consumer picks up a controller from a desk whereas the system is idle. When the controller is put down, the system might additionally instantly log the detected consumer out.

As with all patents, there isn’t any assure this method will ever make it into an precise marketed product, a lot much less the upcoming PlayStation 5 DualSense controller. Based on the patent alone, it isn’t even clear how far alongside Sony is in implementing this concept, or how precisely and rapidly it might work in real-world situations.

Still, in a world the place password-free identification strategies like FaceID and fingerprint sensors have gotten normal on cellphones, it might be good to see some know-how to easy out the console login expertise. Let’s simply hope Sony retains consumer privateness in thoughts if and when this concept does roll out to the general public.

Listing picture by Sony / USPTO

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