PlayStation Project Leonardo
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With very few exceptions and despite their many iterations since the beginning of video game history, game controllers have rarely been designed to enable people with disabilities to enjoy video games. The good news is that Sony has solved this problem and during CES 2023, which is currently being held in Las Vegas, the Japanese presented Project Leonardo, which surprised everyone. This fully modular and customizable controller (or rather this kit) should allow people with disabilities to find the best possible ergonomics according to their limitations and needs. The PlayStation Blog also states that Sony “[souhaite] solve problems faced by many players with limited motor skills, including the inability to hold a controller for long periods of time, press buttons or triggers accurately, or place thumbs and fingers on a regular controller.“.
As you can see from the official images, we are far from the classic pad, with two “arms” and a clever arrangement of buttons, a position that has been considered unremovable for many years. Project Leonardo looks more like an old-school joystick. What’s more, even if it can be held, you can place it on a flat surface or attach a tripod to it. Sony also announces that Project Leonardo is AMPS compliant, allowing many devices to connect to any type of accessibility equipment, such as wheelchairs. The ball on the end of the handle also reminds of the controls of the good old arcade terminals, the ball can be replaced with a stick that is more compatible with the stick we know on the “classic” PlayStation controllers. Next to this steering system is a bulging disk around the perimeter of which houses various action buttons.
Anyone can reposition, resize and change everything to their liking by mixing the movement and direction keys. According to the manufacturer, you can assign two actions to one button, which is impossible even on DualSense Edge. Sony promises that many other components (especially the stick caps) can be swapped out or replaced. We can, for example, adjust the distance between the action buttons and the stick, or even change the “north” position of the latter for optimal comfort and accessibility.
Completely redesigned interface so anyone can claim
And that’s not all. Always with accessibility in mind, each Project Leonardo kit is equipped with four 3.5mm AUX ports to which one (or more) headphones, additional buttons, a pedalboard or many other various accessories can be connected. . As with the DualSense Edge, a profile system is built in to save and reuse the three best possible configurations depending on the type of game (or the user’s needs).
If a single Project Leonardo kit isn’t enough, you can combine two of them to expand the possibilities and have the DualSense, in a way, broken down and enlarged. bring your wrists close enough. The manufacturer also states that DualSense can be linked to one or two Project Leonardo kits so that a third person can control certain inaccessible controls or participate in the game.
“Our team tested more than a dozen designs in collaboration with accessibility experts to find an approach to remove key barriers to optimal use of the controller. We finally opted for a “split joystick” type design that allows you to freely position the left/right joysticks. We wanted this design to be detachable and have very flexible buttons as well as interchangeable joystick caps.“, says Sony Interactive Entertainment designer So Morimoto.
We don’t know the price or the release date of the Projectc Leonardo kit yet.