Imagine you're stuck looking for a quest marker, or you can't find that last item you need for end-game armour. Instead of pulling out your phone, you simply bark into your controller: "Hey Sony, help me find the [insert in-game item here] in [insert game]," and you get in-game prompts that are genuinely helpful.
According to the patent, the AI helper would be called "PlayStation Assist". The idea is pretty straightforward: the player would ask or type a question while they're playing a game, and that query would be sent to a machine learning-powered server that spits out an audio prompt, text boxes or video guide helping the player progress.
Given the amount of surveys and data already available about the amount of time people spend watching YouTube and Twitch for gameplay tips and advice — and the fact that merely going to YouTube will soon become an even bigger threat to PlayStation and Xbox as a rival gaming platform — this kind of feature makes total sense to include in the PlayStation 5.
There's a bunch of practical questions that I'd love answered. Where would the videos and content be pulled from? Does it build its own search functionality or simply try and translate the questions users are asking to spit back into Google? Do the videos come from YouTube? How does it work UI-wise: is it a picture-in-picture situation, does it suspend the game, and do games have to be coded in a particular way to support that?
You can go on and on, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if Xbox ends up adopting something similar of their own even if it's just a partnership with Google Assistant or Alexa. Publishers and platform holders are all looking for ways to stop people leaving their ecosystem wherever possible, and making sure people don't get frustrated while they're playing games is a good way of combating that.
The future of consoles is just over a year away. There's plenty of key questions still unanswered, like how the major publishers will approach retail versus digital sales in 2020 and beyond. But if you're interested in knowing what the next PlayStation can do, there's a ton of info already out there.