Microsoft announces new Xbox controller for people with disabilities
MANILA, Philippines – Microsoft, via their website, announced a new gaming controller that's designed for people with disabilities.
Called the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the device is a white, rectangular gamepad the size of about 2 adult hands spread out, featuring 2 large black buttons, a d-pad, and the Xbox logo on the upper left corner.
The device, Microsoft says, is highly customizable, and has 19 jacks that can interface with a variety of joysticks, switches, and butons. This customizable design is meant to allow gamers with various disabilities a way to functionally play a videogame in ways that a traditional gamepad likely wouldn't.
Microsoft describes it as "the most flexible adaptive controller made by a major gaming company," and gives "gamers with a wide range of physical disabilities the ability to customize their setups."
One Microsoft Stores retail learning specialist, Solomon Romney – born without fingers on his left hand – described his experience with the controller:
I can customize how I interface with the Xbox Adaptive Controller to whatever I want, he said. “If I want to play a game entirely with my feet, I can. I can make the controls fit my body, my desires, and I can change them anytime I want. You plug in whatever you want and go."
I get to redesign my controller every day and get to choose how I want to play, Romney finished.
The idea for the Xbox Adaptive Controller was birthed in 2014 when a Microsoft engineer saw on Twitter a photo of a custom gaming controller by Warfighter Engaged, a non-profit organization that provides gaming devices to wounded army veterans.
The engineer reached out to the organization's founder, Ken Jones. From there, Jones became a consultant for a Microsoft team that entered the idea into Microsoft hackathons in 2015 and 2016.
Development for the product continued, and eventually, the Microsoft Inclusive Tech Lab was established, behind the efforts of Kris Hunter, the director of devices user research and hardware accessibility for Microsoft Experiences and Devices, and Bryce Johnson, a senior Xbox designer. The Adaptive Controller is the centerpiece product of the Microsoft division.
“The Inclusive Tech Lab explores how technology can empower gamers with disabilities," says Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft's chief accessibility officer.
Empowerment, as far as the device goes, comes in the form of the 19 jacks that mimicks the inputs of a traditional Xbox controller. Seen next to the jacks are the usual symbols seen on the Xbox controller.
It's designed to be very accessible, says Microsoft. The inputs are spread out in a single line as opposed to being stacked. The huge rectangular shape is said to allow the controller to sit comfortably in user' laps. Mounting the controller on a wheelchair, lap board or desk is also said to be easy as there are three threaded screw inserts on the controller.
Giving them the ability to put the controller where they need to have it was a really important aspect of the design, said Chris Kujawski, a senior designer who worked on the project.
The device will be released this year for $99.99. It is compatible with Xbox One and Windows 10. – Rappler.com