Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller has been a huge hit. Other than the significant positive press, it has brought thousands of gamers with accessibility issues to new titles on the platform. However, a patent reveals that the company also had plans for the visually impaired.
Spotted by LetsGoDigital, it details an Xbox Elite Controller with a Braille display on the back. This would give physical bumps for in-game text or dialogue, aiding those who have clues for elements on-screen but struggle with text from a distance.
Though text-to-speech solutions exist, Microsoft says screen readers can lag gameplay. Its solution could provide additional data to complement screen readers, such as chat in a multiplayer game.
“A game controller system may include a game controller and Braille accessory that may be part of the controller, or in some embodiments, removably attached to the game controller,” reads the patent. “The Braille accessory may provide a visually-impaired or blind user with Braille input and output gaming capability…the Braille accessory may be configured to provide output duplicative of other Braille output devices associated with the game controller, or it may be used to provide data separate from other accessibility-related output.”
The patent suggests paddles on the back for further control options, as well as functionality like haptic feedback. Further, the player could perform speech commands and read them back via the braille display before sending, cutting down on mistakes.
As always, there's virtually no guarantee that such a device will make it to market. However, it's worth noting that the international filing date is fairly recent, at the 13th of October, 2018. The Xbox Adaptive Controller was released in September 2018. It would be great if Microsoft could get this device into a similarly usable form.