A new accessibility controller has been unveiled for the PlayStation 5, designed for players with disabilities.
The highly-customisable device, dubbed Project Leonardo for now, boasts a completely different form factor to the console’s standard DualSense remote.
Leonardo is circular in design and is made up of a number of large buttons and a single control stick, all of which gamers can rearrange to suit their needs.
It can also be used in conjunction with another Leonardo or DualSense, allowing friends or family to lend further assistance to the main player.
There are several ports to plug in additional accessories, too, to add further input options.
Sony said it worked on the new controller with experts at AbleGamers and SpecialEffect, organisations which help disabled people enjoy video games; and Stack Up, a US charity which uses games to help military veterans recover from combat deployment.
It was announced at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, the world’s biggest consumer technology event.
‘We want to empower players’
Designer So Morimoto said Sony tested more than a dozen designs before settling on the final form factor, which is designed so that it can be used without being held.
The controller lies flat, and can also be secured to mounts, such as a tripod.
Mr Morimoto said: “Because players can customise Project Leonardo according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor.
“We want to empower them to create their own configurations.”
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Gaming’s watershed moment
Leonardo follows in the footsteps of a similar controller from Microsoft, which broke new ground back in 2018 with its Xbox adaptive controller, designed to meet the needs of gamers with limited accessibility.
Sony itself integrated an enormous number of accessibility options into some of its biggest games of 2022, including God Of War Ragnarok and The Last Of Us.
Sky News spoke to one legally blind gamer who was able to play a God Of War game unaided for the first time thanks to Ragnarok’s suite of settings, which felt like a watershed moment for the industry.
Ben, who goes by the online moniker of SightlessKombat and works at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said of Project Leonardo: “Whilst I don’t have any personal need for this myself, I’m glad to see efforts to allow more people to play continuing.
“I hope this is as useful as it seems like it could be for those that need it.”
No pricing or release date has been revealed for Leonardo, which was announced just as Sony declared a global shortage of the PS5 to be over.
The console has been hard to find since launching in November 2020 due to global supply chain issues, but PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said they would be readily available “starting from this point forward”.