Microsoft patents Xbox Braille controller for visually-impaired gamers

Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct (Image credit: Microsoft)

A few months ago, Microsoft launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller for disabled gamers. The device has impacted the lives of many already, but it seems like Microsoft wants to take accessible gaming even further. Today, LetsGoDigital spotted a patent which incorporates a Braille panel into an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.

The Braille panel in the back seems to constantly adjust itself, so that gamers who are blind or have other visual impairments can read the text through the back of the controller. That's not all though, the patent says that the controller will also be able to convert speech to Braille, allowing users to communicate in chat or when they're livestreaming.

The World Intellectual Property patent goes into great detail about other features as well. For example, there are six Xbox Elite Controller-like paddles in the back which can be used for a variety of functions.

Check out our hands-on with the controller

The Xbox Adaptive Controller was a welcome surprise, so there's hope that the Xbox Braille controller makes its way to consumers one day. We know a lot of gamers who have visual disabilities and this would help them immensely. However, keep in mind that just because there's a patent, it doesn't mean that it'll be manufactured. The controller has to work and pass through a number of tests first.

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Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

  • I like that they're trying, but this seems a little short sighted (lol). A better solution would be something like narrator to read the on screen text. It's software which basically already exists so would be more accessible and easier to implement, and doesn't require that the user knows how to read Braille, which most visually impaired and many blind people actually don't know how to do.
  • They already have narrator on Xbox and windows. So this is an additional I/O device on top of that.
  • Most times when we pioneer in a new frontier we come across short sighted but in reality its just the concept of dipping your toes in the water.
  • Is there a source for the statement that most visually impaired people can't read braille? That aside I think more options are useful, including for taking into account instances that maybe they can't use a narrator
  • Being one, and knowing others. I seriously doubt this was conceptualised in consultation with people with visual impairment. Although I could be wrong, it seems like the kind of thing an able bodied person would dream up with the best of intentions. I do genuinely appreciate the consideration though. It seems Microsoft are the only big company who give any real thought to accessibility... But if this ever comes to market I'd expect it to be slightly less successful than the Zune. But again, I AM glad they are considering this stuff, I'm just a realist. If personal experience isn't good enough for you, which it probably shouldn't be, here's the literal first result from Google which says that Braille literacy amongst blind people in the US is about 10%:
  • Can someone explain to me how someone who is blind play XBox? I honestly don't understand how that would work.
  • It does say visually impaired, not blind in the headline, but if you want o know:
  • Using the Xbox for things that aren't games, movies for instance, or Internet.