The new Xbox Adaptive Controller (upper left) includes a litany of ports to plug in other devices to create a customizable experience. (Microsoft Photo)
Microsoft unveiled its newest Xbox controller this week, a ground-breaking device designed for a huge range of customization to help people with disabilities play videogames.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller looks like an oversized version of a regular Xbox controller in a big box, with two huge programmable buttons and the trademark Xbox design and branding. The $100 controller is set to debut later this year.
On the back are 19 jacks that represent the heart of the controller’s flexibility. Users can plug in a variety of peripheral devices, like additional buttons and joysticks, to customize the experience. On the underside, pads keep the controller from sliding around and several more jacks make it possible to mount the device in various ways.
Microsoft’s Deborah Bach pulled back the curtain on how the device went from an idea, to a concept refined over several years by dozens of teams and engineers at the company, to a product it is getting ready to release this year.
Despite the oversize buttons and other new features, the Adaptive Controller in most ways looks like every other Xbox controller. (Microsoft Photo)
The vision for this new controller dates back to 2014, when a Microsoft engineer saw a photo on Twitter of a custom controller made by Warfighter Engaged, a nonprofit focused on helping wounded military veterans recover through gaming. In 2015, a group of Microsoft employees put together a solution for Warfighter Engaged at an accessibility hackathon to make it easier to outfit vets with gaming devices. Another team riffed on that idea at a company-wide hackathon later that year.
The idea continued to gain steam as Microsoft invested in accessibility through its Gaming for …read more