Two months ago, Xbox released its design for the Adaptive Controller, or the XAC. And the gaming and technology communities went berserk!
Exclusively designed by Xbox, it’s a unified hub so gamers with any limited mobility or disability can participate in gaming of any kind. In a world where gaming is becoming more advanced and more sophisticated, the controllers and consoles have been leaving the disabled players behind. Some of them have trouble opening a doorknob or even using a smartphone. None of us can understand that frustration. Finally, Xbox stepped in.
It’s compatible with a large range of external devices that can be connected by 3.5mm jacks or USB ports. Each of these devices will control one of the buttons on the regular controller and will become uniquely customizable to each person.
Working on a collaborative team with not only gamers from the disabled community and within the Xbox family, they teamed up with people from organizations like The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged, they designed multiple devices that will work with the Adaptive Controller taking many types of disabilities into account. And all of them will work on Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PCs with all the same features: Bluetooth, Xbox Wireless and USB connectivity.
So let’s introduce you to some of these devices. This is where things start getting cool!
Just the hub itself is a remarkable piece of technology designed for those with a limited range of mobility. Along with the USB and 3.5mm jack ports where you can plug in other devices if need be the hub itself has a D-pad and menu buttons on top. There are two big round hand pads that are customizable. Each port on the back strip is designated for a specific command that is on the regular controller. The XAC is available for preorder for $99.99 and will be shipped in September. Headsets can also be plugged in. But the Hub itself is only the beginning about what is most exciting and innovative about this new technology!
A number of different mounts were created to not just support the Adaptive Controller hub, but can be swapped out with phones, tablets and laptops. All of these mounts and components are sold separately and depending on the mount that you prefer, it can be strapped to your arm, leg, abdomen, or directly onto your wheelchair arm or railing. They even made these Xbox components compatible to their other customizable equipment so you can create your entirely own system. I’m no engineer or computer scientist, but just knowing that everyone’s gaming setup is probably going to turn out completely different gets me excited about not just the tech, but that the inclusion in future gaming tournaments and events is now going to be at 100%.
Quadstick FPS Game Controller
Made specifically for quadriplegics, this device can be used on not just the Xbox Adaptive Controller, but also on the PS3, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. It is a mouth operated joystick with sip and puff sensors. It’s connected to a processor that converts those commands and sends them through Bluetooth signals. This device actually turns your breath into a Bluetooth signal! It can be used on game consoles, PC, and Android devices. If you plan on using it with your Xbox One or 360 you will need the CronusMax as an adapter.
3dRudder Foot Controller
The very first ever foot controller for gaming, VR and 3D motion. It will free up your hand or hands so your feet take care of all the motion. When used in combination with with another device that is compatible with the Adaptive Controller, it completely frees up your hands for other ranges of motion. It is compatible on Xbox and PC. Even with no disabilities with your range of motion, this little device will make any journey through VR an incredible experience.
There is a whole line of switches and button pads from available through AbleNet that are compatible with the Adaptive Controller. They can simply be set on a surface or strapped and mounted anywhere. Each of them is wired with a 3.5 jack and are customizable. There are also Bluetooth options available with rechargeable batteries.
There are a number of other devices that can be used and connected to the Adaptive Controller and you can check them out here!
As if the announcement of all of these devices was not exciting enough, they took it one step further. It’s not just the controller that is accessible, but the design of the packaging as well. No more hard to remove styrofoam or taped plastic. There will be no twisty ties or sticky plastic. With a system of loops and hinges in the outside box and the actual packaging of the device, as long as the customer can get an appendage through the loop, the box will open as a lever.
“We treat packaging as part of the product. Packaging really has the potential to validate and shape consumer experiences.” -Kevin Marshall, creative director of design
If the XAC is ordered directly from the Microsoft website, the outside packaging will be easily opened as well. Just pull the loop built into the tape and the outside box will fall open, revealing the product box. After a year of discussing and testing the designs with members of the gaming community, Xbox presented its design in a press event last week. It’s not just about the technology itself anymore. However, in a world where anything and everything can be ordered online and delivered to your door, they took care in thinking about the packaging as well.
So, what are Gamers saying about this new technology?
Since this announcement, people both in the industry and gamers have expressed their support and enthusiasm for the XAC. We took to Twitter to see what some of them have been saying.
@IncTechLab, my sons and I got to jump, run, swing swords this Sunday thanks to the #Xbox Adaptive Controller! We each had our own commands of the same character. So much fun with my kids, no arthritis pain or constantly re-gripping and shifting to hold on. #GamingforEveryone
— InclusiveMum (@TheInclusiveMum) July 22, 2018
The attention to detail in all aspects of the Xbox Adaptive Controller is reminiscent of Steve Jobs-era Apple. Absolute perfection. https://t.co/SvkcU9HEE1
— Matt Galligan (@mg) July 25, 2018
The Xbox Adaptive Controller is one of the coolest things a major company has done in the last few years. For someone who has a disabled nephew and met various people with disabilities, it is nice to see them get another option to enrich their lives. Props to Microsoft. #loveit
— Let's Talk About Life (@LTALIG) July 25, 2018
Got an awesome package in the mail from @WFEngaged down here in Texas. Seeing a lotttt of potential on this table for creating custom set ups and solutions with the #XboxAdaptiveController . We will be updating y'all with what we come up with and discover 🤘🏽 pic.twitter.com/qExOGIIMpB
— Kaitlyn Jones (@KaitlynJones_) July 22, 2018
This is an amazing leap in gaming technology. Perhaps it will be the first step needed for other companies to make accessibility easier in other ways. Most importantly, this is just the beginning of the future of not just inclusion in gaming, but inclusion in all technology.