It’s the talk of the town in the tech world! No, you won’t find it on the Microsoft website… yet. However, writers in the field have discovered a patent the company filed for what could well be a very important new accessibility device in its Xbox stable. This time last year, we reported on the revolutionary Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller, which brings the joys of gaming to players with a variety of physical disabilities.
The “haptic braille output for a game controller” is for blind and visually impaired gamers. Unlike the Xbox Adaptive Controller, this new iteration looks like the company’s traditional Xbox controller features a built-in refreshable braille display and paddles one would associate with BrailleNote. In the patent, Microsoft describes its proposed device thus:
A game controller with haptic Braille chording capability. While a conventional game controller are geared to sighted players, the disclosed controller configurations include various adaptations that provide alternative input and outputs to facilitate game play by sight-impaired or blind users, as well as other users knowledgeable of braille. A number of paddles may be arranged on a game controller housing so that a player may engage selected ones of the paddles to enable encoding braille characters, using the paddles. This input may be used to control a game, enter text into a chat session, or take any other action desired.
The braille display and paddles also convey information or conversation back to the user. The writers of TechCrunch, who have provided a detailed overview of the new controller, plan on following up with Microsoft. Naturally, we eagerly await the release of this device, which will make many popular video games accessible to the blind and visually impaired.