When it comes to the accessibility of its platform, PlayStation has made a massive step forward with the recent reveal of Project Leonardo. A brand new, highly customizable accessibility controller kit for the PS5 that will aid those with disabilities, allowing them to play games more comfortably.
So in this article, we'll take a deep dive into Project Leonardo and see what it offers those with disabilities and how it allows them to play games for longer, thanks to its unique design approach and forethought.
Project Leonardo: Accessibility Controller Kit for PS5
During last year's Sony CES 2023 conference, PlayStation announced that Project Leonardo, an accessibility controller kit for the PS5, was currently being developed to assist players with disabilities. As stated by the CEO, this new controller will allow players with disabilities to "play more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods”.
To achieve this, the controller kit was developed with insight from organizations such as AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, and Stack Up, companies that specialize in making gaming more accessible to those with disabilities. The way the controller does this is by implementing a "split controller design" that focuses on customization and ease of use.
Customization was touched on by designer So Morimoto, stating: "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 a 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”.
Senior Vice President Hideaki Nishino goes on to address the ease of 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."
Project Leonardo accessibility controller kit features
So thanks to the combination of the controller being highly customizable and designed specifically to negate many of the challenges facing those with disabilities using a controller, it aims to give all players a balanced and comfortable gaming experience.
Some of the key features used to achieve this were also listed in the official blog post on Project Leonardo and are as follows:
Project Leonardo for PS5 is a canvas for gamers to craft their own play experience. It includes a robust kit of swappable components, including a variety of analog stick caps and buttons in different shapes and sizes.
Players can use these components to craft a wide array of control layouts. And the distance of the analog stick from the gamepad can be adjusted to suit the player’s preference. These components allow players to find a configuration that works for their strength, range of motion, and particular physical needs.
- The controller’s buttons can be programmed to any supported function and multiple buttons can be mapped to the same function. Conversely, players can map two functions (like “R2” + “L2”) onto the same button.
- Players can store their programmed button settings as control profiles and easily switch between them by pressing the profile button.
- Up to three control profiles can be stored and accessed by the player from their PS5 console at any time.
To add even more versatility, a Project Leonardo or DualSense wireless controller can be used alone or in tandem with other Project Leonardo or DualSense wireless controllers. Or even combine up to two Project Leonardo controllers and one DualSense wireless controller to create a single virtual controller to suit their needs.
Through four 3.5mm AUX ports, Project Leonardo can be expanded to support a variety of external switches and third-party accessibility accessories for players who own their own special devices. External accessories can be dynamically connected or disconnected, and each can be configured to function similarly to any other button.
Based on everything mentioned above, we see this as a massive step forward to make gaming on the PS5 accessible to all players. And while the controller kit is still in development, we look forward to seeing its release soon, so be sure to check back for more details on Project Leonardo's release date, price, etc.