With my colleague Andrew Webster checked the PlayStation 5, He explained that Sony’s next generation of video games is something that you can’t watch – you have to touch. Part of it is how the amazing DualSense controllers are clever motorized triggers and intense precise vibrations can create the crunching feeling of strolling across a sandy beach or the pitter-pattering of the rain.

Another part: the 40,000 tiny PlayStation icons You will feel when you pick up the new PS5 gamepad. As an Easter egg for its fans, the company decided to apply a micro-texture to the entire lower shell of the DualSense controller, making it Sony’s most grippy gamepad to date, with thousands and thousands of tiny squares, triangles, circles and crosses literally at hand.

The same photo was enlarged. Slide the divider to the left to see more PlayStation icons up close.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Sony hasn’t talked about it yet As It did, how many there are or how big the icons actually get, but we have those answers today – including photos and behind-the-scenes details of Sony’s Yujin Morisawa and Takeshi Igarashi, the main designers behind the PS5 and the DualSense respectively. (We even borrowed a fancy industrial microscope so you can see what the icons look like up close.)

Perhaps the most noticeable part, as you’ll see in the pictures above and below: these tiny symbols are stacked on top of each other and stick out in three dimensions. They’re not a single, evenly spaced layer at all, like the tiny dots you might remember on Sony’s DualShock 4 from 2013. They look random, almost organic – which may be because all of the design was done by hand.

A study of various microtexture sketches.
Image from Sony Interactive Entertainment

And not just a sketch. Morisawa, Senior Art Director of Sony’s Design Center Product Design Group, explains that a variety of designs have been handcrafted, digitized, recreated, applied to current prototype gamepads, and tested over and over until the teams found the balance they wanted: good looking, textured enough to be comfortable and slip resistant but not so sandpaper hard that it would hurt your hands during a long gaming session.

While designers could easily place the digital version of the texture wherever they wanted in Sony’s CAD programs, Morisawa said physically comparing and testing different prototypes was key: “While prototyping takes a long time Getting Started – Judgment on a product is made the moment you see and touch it, ”he told us via email.

A comparison of different microtexture variations for molding – including the PS4’s stippling texture, bottom right.
Image from Sony Interactive Entertainment

Testing four different height variations of the same pattern.
Image from Sony Interactive Entertainment

An actually shaped plate to confirm that the texture works and stays consistent.
Image from Sony Interactive Entertainment

The layers are digitally merged as they appear on the inner lip of the PS5 console.
Image from Sony Interactive Entertainment

Figuring out the correct height of the icons was a lot of work in itself, as you can see in some behind the scenes photos from Sony. In the end, they settled on two layers – one about 15 microns high and another 30 microns high, according to measurements we took with a Nikon LV100 microscope.

A microscope photo of the DualShock 4's texture shows overlapping square, triangle, circle and cross symbols

The larger symbols are about half a millimeter wide and the top layer is only 30 micrometers (three hundredths of a millimeter) high.
Photo by The Verge

One disadvantage of the texture: it picks up dirt extremely easily and does not want to let go.
Photo by The Verge

Applying the icons to the DualSense gamepad was the easy part – since they don’t apply at all. Each of these 40,000 symbols is part of the controller’s shell, which is created when beads of melted ABS plastic are pressed into tiny laser-cut gaps during the standard injection molding process.

The trick is to have the right equipment to make this shape. Lasers have proven useful in creating such precise shapes over an entire three-dimensional curved surface that should fit in the palms of your hands. In particular, a high-end multi-axis laser engraving machine that, according to Igarashi, is “hard to come by”. The result? Since it’s part of the shape, the texture you feel on the PS5’s controller is exactly the same as any other owner.

A final CAD render check for the PS5 Media Remote handle.
Image from Sony Interactive Entertainment

A texture placement review for the Pulse 3D wireless headset.
Image from Sony Interactive Entertainment

Sony’s PlayStation controller probably defined decades of gamepadsSo it was no surprise when, for example Google’s Stadia Controller came with the same type of dotted texture that Sony introduced with the DualShock 4 in 2013. This time around, however, Sony’s microtexture isn’t just for your hands. The barely-there PlayStation icons are part of the PS5 experience wherever you want to look. You can find them on the inside lip on both side walls of the PS5 console. They also adorn the handles of the PS5’s optional media remote, DualSense charging cradle, PS5 camera and Sony’s wireless Pulse 3D headset.

They even appear in at least one game: Astros playroom, the must-play PS5 pack-inprominently uses the texture on a number of floors and walls. It makes sense. Not only is Astro It’s a celebration of the company’s gaming history, and it’s packed with PlayStation Easter eggs, including some that Sony itself is good-naturedly fun to use.

Make fun of Sony’s use of the Spider-Man font on the original PS3.

The “serial numbers” of the Astro devices pay homage to important Sony personalities such as Shuhei Yoshida.

In the PS3 era, Sony often felt arrogant, a little too sure that fans would get everything it had to offer – $ 599 worth of consoles huge enemy crabs, proprietary discs and memory sticks for its ambitious portable devices, on Smash Bros. competitor Without enough popular video game franchises to back it up – but PlayStation has not only earned a ton of goodwill since then, but has gotten more confident too. If the company can stay that way throughout the PS5’s lifecycle (and, you know, Actually let people buy one), I have little doubt that it will be a winner.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

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