Microsoft has been engaged in gradually making its offerings more accessible for individuals with disabilities for some time, most notably with recent tweaks to Windows and the Xbox Adaptive Controller. In a new patent, spotted by Windows United, Microsoft is exploring ways to extend those efforts to Windows Mixed Reality, envisioning a system that would make it easier for people with limited range of movement to interact with virtual objects.
The patent shows off a proposed system that would adjust to an individual's specific range of motion and rotation, placing virtual objects in a way so that they can still interact with them. The system would also scale a person's movements so that they can reach a greater area within the virtual space than their limitations would otherwise allow.
From the description:
Virtual worlds and augmented reality already offer an intriguing space for people with disabilities to explore places and perform actions that may otherwise prove difficult. Adding additional accessibility options when it comes to the way users interact with those experiences would serve to expand that.
As always, patents don't necessarily represent something that is guaranteed to make it to market, so this might remain only an idea. However, if such a system were to come to fruition, whether on its own or as the basis for something more robust, it could prove to be a boon for anyone with permanently or temporarily impaired movement.
I think it will come to market in some form. Apart from the fact that it opens up one of Microsoft's future strategic plays to a previously "unserved" (not just "underserved" ) community, it can also enhance the more able-bodied in less-than-ideal situations where they are also somehow restricted.
The work microsoft are doing for people with a disability is amazing I hope others follow with this. The Xbox controller they made not so long ago is amazing and for me technology should be open to everyone. Great to see.
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