Sony’s Project Leonardo: The Customizable Accessible Controller for Gaming on PS5

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By Michael

Sony has finally announced its first accessible controller, codenamed: Project Leonardo.

Until now, Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive controller was the only first-party accessible game controller available. Well, technically, it still is, as there is currently no release date for this new accessibility-focused system.

Sony’s Project Leonardo aims to make gaming more inclusive for individuals with limited motor control. The controller is a fully customizable, accessible PlayStation controller, which was developed with help from accessibility experts and members of the disabled community. Based on images, the kit is a set of circular gamepads, with the outside circumference lined with customizable buttons and a customizable joystick. They describe it as a “canvas for gamers to craft their own play experience.”

The hardware customization will be paired with software customizations, where users can map their own button layout, including mapping two functions to the same button.

Project Leonardo can be used independently or paired with a DualSense controller. Up to two circular controllers and one DualSense will be read as one gamepad by the PlayStation 5, allowing flexibility and assistance from a secondary player.

Project Leonardo will include four 3.5mm AUX ports, something that is familiar to individuals and families who use adaptive toys and other devices. The ports will allow for various accessibility accessories and switches, which also lend themselves to familiarity with existing adaptive and accessible utilities.

As the PlayStation Blog said, Project Leonardo is “designed to remove barriers to gaming and help players with disabilities play more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods on PS5.”

Also, on the blog, Sony designer So Morimoto described the approach to Project Leonardo as:

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 very flexible button and stick cap swapping. 

Morimoto also added:

“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 appreciate the understanding and acknowledgment that no two players, or disabilities, are alike.

Again, no word on the price or release window for Project Leonardo, but as more comes to light, we here at Fatherhood RELOADED will be sure to share!

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