Sony patents new PlayStation technology that can map a player’s facial expressions, translate them into an emoji, and send them to other users.

Improving gamers’ ability to interact with each other online is a huge part of the industry, whether through voice programs such as Discord, or via the implementation of in-game emotes or dances. Building on this, a new patent from Sony is aiming to utilize facial recognition in order to take the player’s real-life facial expressions and translate them into emojis, so they can communicate more directly with people through the PlayStation or other device.

With social interaction via gaming becoming a larger part of life these days, especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many people indoors for lockdowns, it makes sense for video game companies to invest in technology that allows people to communicate more succinctly and organically with one another. Sony’s recent partnership with Discord is evidence that the company is treating social interaction through gaming as an important facet of its appeal.

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The patent itself aims to utilize a camera located in the player’s controller, allowing them to take images of their facial expressions and have those expressions converted into emojis, that can then be sent directly to other players they are communicating with. This would effectively allow for more organic interactions between PlayStation users, as the expressions of players can be captured in real-time, either automatically or via a simple button-press on their controller.

Sony patent emoji face recognition

Different versions of the technology are mentioned in the patent, with some concepts using an emoji model that is molded into expressions based on the image captured by the controller’s camera, other versions use a list of emojis that the technology would look up and send based on how closely they resembled the player’s face. In either case, Sony clearly has specific goals for the PlayStation 5 controller as an all-around device, with next-gen games like Horizon Forbidden West utilizing its haptics and other features to impressive effect.

The implications of this patent are exciting. Social interaction is an important aspect of gaming, especially with the pandemic limiting people’s ability to physically see each other’s faces. This technology could help to recreate the sense of being in the room with other people while one games, and could help usher in a new era of virtual couch gaming for PlayStation. The ability to communicate quickly and efficiently could also be useful for those with disabilities that make typing on a controller or other device difficult, thus allowing for much greater accessibility for those who avoid online communication via text for this reason.

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