February 4, 2023

As a part of the CES 2023 presentation, Sony has announced its foray into the accessibility option for the ecosystem to customize to the needs of people with limited motor control. The Japanese electronics giant revealed it is working on a new accessibility controller kit for PS5 codenamed “Project Leonardo” to give disabled gamers equal strategic advantage as normal players.

Microsoft is already mindful of such special requirements – the Xbox Adaptive Controller is a good example of it. Taking leaf out of its competitors’ book, Sony has collaborated with organizations like AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up to fine-tune the project.

Designer: Sony

By the look of things, the kit comprises circular gamepads lined up with buttons and directional keys. All of them are customizable, giving players the ability to create the best-suited gamepad. Each one them can be mapped precisely and the hardware bits swapped easily for hassle-free use. The modular controller can be used standalone or paired with DualSense controllers. Two Leonardo controllers and one DualSense can be synced together to make a complete gamepad for PlayStation 5 console.

The controller will address problems 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.” For example, the split, symmetrical design repositions the analog sticks much closer or farther. This means the controller can be positioned flat on a table or wheelchair tray for ease of use. The buttons can be mapped for up to three profiles, so multiple users can use them in tandem without any major hassles.

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According to Sony designer So Morimoto, the controller is tested with more than a dozen designs already in conjunction with accessibility veterans. The split design came out to be the most effective for “free-form left/right thumbstick repositionability” that’s almost perfect. Also, the controller can accept a plethora of combinations of accessibility accessories for a never-before-seen aesthetic.

We can expect to see more options and even subtle design changes as the project nears the production stage. For now, there is no word on the release date or pricing yet, but more should seep in in the coming weeks for sure.