Microsoft has just unveiled the Adaptive Controller, a piece of hardware that will allow people with disabilities play Xbox One games with better accessibility.
The controller is a plug-and-play device designed to allow as many gamers as possible to use the Xbox One. It has two large buttons on the surface which can be operated with hands, elbows, or feet, and has nineteen 3.5 mm ports. Each of these ports on the back are meant for different peripherals, some of which include touch-sensitive pads, foot pedals, sip and puff straws, bite switches, even the Quadstick, a third-party device for quadriplegics. The Adaptive Controller is also wireless and contains its own chargeable battery, but will come with an optional power supply for peripherals that use more power.
The controller was engineered by a subset of Microsoft’s development team in partnership with Warfighter Engaged, a charity for military veterans through gaming as a means of rehabilitation. Though not exclusively for veterans with disabilities, these two teams collaborated to make the first prototype of the Adaptive Controller in 2015 and developed it further over the following years. When released, it will be priced at $99 USD ($126 CAD); currently far cheaper than other accessibility devices, some as high as $399.
This device is arriving on the gaming scene at just the right time. We believe that gaming is the great unifier; in an age where video games have become a widespread phenomenon, more and more people crave representation. The Adaptive Controller will appeal to a group of gamers who have been largely ignored by the mainstream market and advertising. As Evelyn Thomas, Microsoft’s accessibility program manager for Xbox said, “there are millions of gamers out there with a wide variety of disabilities. That’s why we feel this device is so important,” said Thomas. “This is not a niche product.”