|Software company Microsoft patented a new Xbox controller that has a special Braille feature on it / Photo by: Max Pixel|
Microsoft's new patent of an Xbox controller with a built-in Braille display suggests the company's new way of addressing the needs of disabled gamers, leaning towards accessibility in gaming.
With its patent for a Braille-enabled controller, Microsoft is showing that it is possible to achieve support direct from the user's console designer—even if there are already existing Braille display accessories for gaming.
According to TechCrunch, the patent was filed in 2018 and was recently disclosed to the public. German tech site Let's Go Digital soon caught a glimpse of the possible upcoming controller; although Microsoft has yet to make any official announcements yet, the timing is very much favorable for an E3 reveal.
While patents don't automatically represent a company's real products in development, the Braille-enabled controller is worthy of attention.
Referred to as the Braille Controller in the patent, it takes on a similar look to a typical Xbox One gamepad. The only difference is that the controller in development seems to have some sort of robotic insect sticking out on the back.
TechCrunch says this is the controller's Braille display, which sports both a dot matrix—which mechanically creates the bumps that players can feel and run their fingers over—and a set of changeable paddles that allows for both input and output.
It adds that the six paddles are the answer to the six dot positions of a Braille-coded character. The gamer can use these paddles to chord or input text as well as to receive text communications without having to move their fingers from the paddles.
"Of course the mechanisms also could be used to send haptic feedback of other types, like directional indicators or environmental effects like screen shake," the tech news site explains.
Such a function would mean games will require a metadata layer for this type of conversion of visual to auditory cue and vice versa -- this, among other considerations for users with various disabilities.