Sony's Project Leonardo: A PS5 Controller for Differently-Abled Gamers

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s designers have rolled out a wonderful initiative to reduce barriers for differently-abled gamers. Their Project Leonardo is a freshly-designed customizable controller for the PS5, designed incorporating feedback from accessibility experts, game developers and of course gamers themselves, for some of whom the standard controller can be difficult if not impossible to use.

“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,” the company writes.

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To that end, the user-swappable interface features different analog stick caps and buttons of different sizes, all of which can be customized. Buttons can also have two different functions mapped onto them at once, to allow players to access two-button combos with just one button press.

Each controller can store up to three different players’ settings. And conveniently, while they can be used as standalone controllers, they can also work in conjunction with another Project Leonardo controller or even a standard controller, allowing friends and family to assist with the controls.

As for the form the designers settled on:

“Project Leonardo’s split, symmetric design allows players to reposition the analog sticks as close together or as far apart as they like. The controller lies flat and does not need to be held, so players can lay it on a tabletop or a wheelchair tray. It can be easily secured to AMPS mounts or tripods, and can be oriented 360 degrees for the most comfortable use. Players can also program the ‘north’ orientation on the analog sticks to match their preferred controller orientation.”

Industrial designer So Morimoto describes the design team’s overall goals:

“Project Leonardo is part of the PS5 product family and is based on the same design concept. We were inspired by the idea of all players enjoying the world of PlayStation together. Our team tested over a dozen designs with accessibility experts, looking for approaches that would help address key challenges to effective controller use. 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.

“Because players can customize Project Leonardo according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own configurations. The controller can also flexibly accept combinations of accessibility accessories to create a unique aesthetic. I am excited that the design will be completed through collaboration with players rather than presenting them with a single form factor.”

Source: core77

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