At CES, Sony PlayStation chief Jim Ryan said that the company will launch Project Leonardo, a new controller designed for gamers with limited mobility.
The controller will make gaming more accessible for players who have challenges using ordinary controllers. It’s quite reminiscent of Microsoft’s efforts with the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
Ryan said more than 30 million PlayStation 5 consoles have been sold to date. Project Leonardo will allow more gamers to enjoy the console. Ryan said that Sony is working with experts on accessibility such as Able Gamers. You can read the details here.
Leonardo is basically an accessibility kit designed to remove barriers to gaming and help players with disabilities play more easily, more comfortably and for longer periods on PS5.
Hideaki Nishino, senior vice president for platform experience at SIE, said in a blog post that accessibility is an important topic to us at PlayStation, and the company wants to continue raising the bar to enable every gamer to experience the joy of play.
“Whether it’s the robust accessibility options in PlayStation Studios games like Santa Monica Studio’s God of War Ragnarök or Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part I, or the wide array of features in our PS4 and PS5 console UI, we’re passionate about reducing barriers to play for every gamer,” Nishino said.
He added, “Today at CES, we announced the next step in our journey to make gaming more accessible: Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5. Developed with key contributions from accessibility experts, community members, and game developers, Project Leonardo is our codename for a new highly customizable controller kit that works “out of the box” to help many players with disabilities play games more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods.”
He said Sony talked to experts at AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up and then came up with the design for the highly configurable controller that works in tandem with many third-party accessibility accessories and integrates with the PS5 console to open up new ways of gaming.
“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,” Nishino said.
The controller is highly customizable with a 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 game pad 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.
You can remap the buttons as needed. Players can store their programmed button settings as control profiles and easily switch between them by pressing the profile button.
For example, players can augment their DualSense controller with a Project Leonardo controller or use two Project Leonardo controllers on their own. A friend or family member can also assist by helping to control the player’s game character with a DualSense controller or a second Project Leonardo controller. The controllers can be dynamically turned on or off and used in any combination.
Project Leonardo is expandable through four 3.5mm AUX ports to support a variety of external switches and third-party accessibility accessories. This enables users to integrate specialty switches, buttons or analog sticks with the Project Leonardo controller. The external accessories can be dynamically connected or disconnected, and each can be configured to act like any other button.
Project Leonardo’s split, symmetric design allows players to reposition the analog sticks as close together or as far apart as they like. The controller lies flat and does not need to be held, so players can lay it on a tabletop or a wheelchair tray. It can be easily secured to AMPS mounts* or tripods, and can be oriented 360 degrees for the most comfortable use. Players can also program the “north” orientation on the analog sticks to match their preferred controller orientation.