Last year, Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller for those with limited mobility and struggle with using a regular controller. Now, it appears as though the company may be releasing a new controller for those that suffer from vision impairment. First spotted by LetsGoDigital, Microsoft has filed a patent for a Xbox controller that has “haptic Braille chording capability.”
As seen in the figure above, the controller appears to have paddles that can be arranged “so that a player may engage selected ones of the paddles to enable encoding braille characters” on the back of the controller. The description of the controller would continue with, “This input may be used to control a game, enter text into a chat session or take any other action desired.” This can also be the inverse, where the paddles will provide haptic feedback to provide players with Braille output.
The patent also details how games have involved graphically, and how that has made it difficult for some visually-impaired and blind players to experience certain games. The patent would also get into how input lag affects the more fast paced genres of video games. Thus, making it harder for the visually-impaired to play these games.
Games employing these complex graphics are challenging to use for visually-impaired or blind users since the accompanied audible feedback may only describe the game’s complex graphics in a limited manner through the use of screen readers.
The patent for this new controller appears to have been filed in October of 2017, and then was filed internationally a year later in October 2018. While many will have to wait to see if this Braille controller comes to fruition, this isn’t the only recent thing Microsoft has done to help those with disabilities. Recently, the company partnered with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to bring the Xbox Adaptive Controller to VA rehab centers across the country to help wounded veterans.