At CES 2023, PlayStation revealed Project Leonardo, a new highly accessible controller kit for the PS5 designed so that players with disabilities can play for longer and more comfortably.
The designers worked with disability gaming groups AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, and Stack Up to create a controller for those with more limited motor control.
“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,” says PlayStation Blog.
Project Leonardo comes with a circular symmetrical design that allows players to reposition the analog stick. The controller is also completely flat, meaning that it does not need to be held and can be laid on top of a wheelchair or table.
It will also feature extensive button mapping allowing players to change buttons around the controller to their preference and even two functions to the same button, like hitting two face buttons together for a fighting game. Players can save up to three button customizations and can be assessed at any time. It will also be able to work on its own or in tandem with the PS5 Duelsense and third-party controllers.
PlayStation Designer So Morimoto made the following statement about Project Leonardo:
“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.”
Project Leonardo does not currently have a release window. PlayStation says that it is still in development and that they will continue to gather feedback from the community to make the controller even more accessible.
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