Sony files for universal game controller patent

PS3 maker devises LCD touch-screen-enabled gamepad that could work with Nintendo, Microsoft consoles, as well as legacy systems from Atari, Sega, and more.

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As was the trend throughout most of 2009, the US retail market for games was humbled in January, slipping 13 percent to $1.17 billion, according to the NPD Group. One segment to see growth, however, was accessories, which actually gained 2 percent over January 2009 with sales of $217 million. The sales climb represented the second consecutive month of year-over-year growth for accessories, having spiked 15 percent to $760.2 million in December.

The controller would use an LCD touch screen…
The controller would use an LCD touch screen…

Sony may be making a move to better capitalize on that growth, were it to proceed to the manufacturing and distribution phase for a new controller patent application. The concept, which surfaced in the US Patent & Trademark Office's online database yesterday, details a "Universal Game Console Controller" that could "emulate the controllers of popular game consoles, such as…the PlayStation, a controller made by Nintendo, Xbox game controllers made by Microsoft, Amiga CD-32 controllers, Atari Jaguar controllers, Gravis Gamepad controllers, Sega controllers, and Turbographics [sic] controllers."

To do this, Sony's universal controller would incorporate a touch-screen LCD display that would lay out the button configurations of the various game pads. The filing notes that the controller's LCD display could only show one type of control scheme at a time, though up to three types of schemes could be stored in the controller. As could be guessed by the aforementioned controller list, consoles wouldn't need to be current to be compatible with the universal gamepad.

…and could work with the PS3, 360, and Wii.
…and could work with the PS3, 360, and Wii.

"It may now be appreciated that among other advantages, the controller provides for backward compatibility so that it may be programmed to emulate the key layout of an older controller that may no longer be available," the filing reads. Sony's patent also notes that the LCD could be used as an alpha-numeric keyboard.

Controller data would be passed by way of a special receiver. The filing notes that the device could be loaded out with rumble functionality, as well as speakers. It could also be powered either by battery for wireless gameplay or by way of the communication receiver.

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