Microsoft Patents Braille Controller For Visually-Impaired Gamers

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Microsoft

Microsoft is making some big moves in its efforts to make video games as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. The tech giant recently released the Xbox Adaptive Controller for gamers to widespread critical acclaim, but it doesn’t look like it’s stopping there. 

A recent patent filed by Microsoft (discovered by LetsGoDigital) shows an interesting looking braille accessory. The diagram (below) displays six paddles and a Braille display on the underside of the pad that could be incorporated into the an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.

Microsoft

While it’s important to note that companies do patent ideas all the time, and that this is it by no means confirmation that such a product is on the way, Microsoft’s recent moves in accessibility would suggest that a controller for the visually impaired is a likely next step for the company.

The patent reads:

Some of the greatest game improvements have occurred in the use of complex graphics. Games employing these complex graphics are challenging to use for visually-impaired or blind users since the accompanied audible feedback may only describe the game’s complex graphics in a limited manner through the use of screen readers. In addition, when a game is moving quickly, such as in a fighting game, the output from a screen reader may lag gameplay.

The idea, according to the patent, is that the pad would convert text or audio into braille output, while also being able to convert voice commands to braille input. It would also work with various consoles, PC, and mobile devices – not just Xbox consoles.

The patent goes on to note that there is absolutely a need for “improved game controllers and accessories that address the very specialised manner in which visually impaired or blind users interact with games.”

While the patent was only recently discovered, but Microsoft Technology Licensing filed for it in 2017, and it was published in October 2018 – just one month after the Adaptive Controller launched.

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Ewan Moore

Ewan Moore

Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn't gotten out of his mid 00's emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.