Remember last week, when Sony announced a weird new Dual Shock 4 attachment that added two additional triggers to the rear of the device? We speculated at the time that Sony might be attempting to future-proof the DS4 ahead of its next generation controller, which might include rear triggers by default. Well lo and behold, yesterday Sony was awarded a patent for a Dual Shock-style controller featuring that very thing.
The majority of the document is in Japanese, but an abstract (read: overview) of the patent was also provided in French and English. According to the abstract (and some inferences we can make from additional machine translations), the buttons on the rear of this new controller act like tiny little secondary triggers that pivot when pressed, just like traditional L2 and R2 inputs, though the patent also envisions an implementation where the triggers slide along guides.
The documentation allows for situations where the rear triggers are symmetrical, as seen in the patent drawings, as well as situations where they’re not. It also posits that the sensor activated by the rear triggers could be digital, analogue, or one that measures pressure, depending on the use case. The rear triggers in the drawings align with the sticks on the front of the controller, but again, the patent says that this arrangement is not explicitly necessary.
In fact, the Dual Shock-style controller seen here isn’t explicitly necessary either — the patent says that these rear triggers could be implemented on another type of input device, such as one designed for use with a single hand, or a similar device with a different configuration of sticks and buttons. Nowhere, however, does the patent suppose that these new inputs could be added to an existing controller as a module, which rules out the possibility that this patent simply covers the Back Button Attachment that Sony announced last week.
All of this wiggle room allows Sony to patent these rear triggers without also revealing the true design of the PlayStation 5’s controller, should that really be what these buttons are for. This also explains why the example controller shown in the diagram lacks a PlayStation button, and why it looks to have a micro-USB port instead of a USB-C connector — these drawings are, explicitly, for demonstration purposes only.
There’s always the possibility that Sony just happened to coincidentally patent a new kind of controller with rear triggers and introduce a new add-on to give existing controllers that functionality around the same time, all while preparing for the launch of its next big console that’s less than a year away, but that’d be one hell of a coincidence.
Besides, Sony loves adding weird ancillary crap to its controllers — the Dual Shock 4 has a trackpad on it for crying out loud, of course it would do this. My only real question is: What does Sony call em? The “L3” and “R3” designations are already used by the stick buttons, and Nintendo called dibs on ZL/ZR and SL/SR a while ago, so now what? L4 and R4, I guess? Feels wrong, but we’ll all find out together next year.