Sony is working on an accessible controller for its PlayStation 5 video game console. (Sony Interactive Entertainment/TNS)
One of the biggest names in video gaming is working to make its offering more accessible to people with disabilities.
Sony introduced an accessibility kit this month designed to work out of the box with its PlayStation 5 console.
The customizable controller is intended to “help many players with disabilities play games more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods,” wrote Hideaki Nishino, senior vice president of platform experience for Sony Interactive Entertainment, in a blog post.
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Developed under the codename “Project Leonardo,” the circular controller works with third-party accessories and allows users to program buttons to perform the functions they prefer. The controller lies flat so it can be rested on a table or wheelchair tray.
“It is built to address common challenges faced by many players with limited motor control, including difficulty holding a controller for long periods, accurately pressing small clusters of buttons or triggers, or positioning thumbs and fingers optimally on a standard controller,” according to Nishino.
Sony said it worked with accessibility experts and organizations like AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up to develop the new controller, which was unveiled earlier this month at CES, an annual consumer technology trade show in Las Vegas.
“Our team tested over a dozen designs with accessibility experts, looking for approaches that would help address key challenges to effective controller use,” said So Morimoto, a designer with Sony Interactive Entertainment. “We finally settled on a ‘split controller’ design that allows near free-form left/right thumbstick repositionability, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping.”
This isn’t the first video game controller to prioritize accessibility. In 2018, Microsoft debuted its Adaptive Controller for Xbox, which has similar capabilities.
Sony said that Project Leonardo is still in development and officials are working to get feedback on the product from the disability community. The company did not name a price or say when the accessible controller might be available.
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