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This Sony PlayStation patent shows a new way to make games more accessible

A new patent from Sony Interactive Entertainment reveals a detachable controller pad that would make games more comfortable to play for people who are blind or have low vision.

The device, as outlined within the patent, seems like a rectangle with rounded edges (and sometimes a button, counting on which illustration you are looking at). It’s designed to either be fitted over or replace the DualShock 4 controller’s standard touchpad entirely, with some key additions. They include a series of haptic feedback mechanisms, like localized rumble and pins that push up a versatile layer to offer players tactile feedback from the sport. Though all the illustrations use a DualShock 4, the patent confirms it could even be used with PS5.

The primary example cited within the patent is that the Huldra Shop screen from God of War. With its small text scattered across multiple windows, it might not be straightforward to parse with standard accessibility tools like an in-game magnifier. The very fact that the shop is a component of the sports world with its dialogue also interferes with automated text-to-speech solutions, causing players to miss out on incidental dialogue or need to sit through repeated readings of equivalent information.

The detachable pad could output braille versions of the on-screen information, even including its little control input, to advance through text. It could also create tactile versions of in-game symbols and even animate them; for instance, a series of arrows moving upward across the pad could indicate that a bit of drug will improve your stats. The pad would still support touch feedback, so you’ll use it to form choices also as reading through them.

Though the tactile pad would usually be fitted over or in situ of the touchpad, the patent also confirms that it might be mounted to different areas of the controller to support comfortably reading text with fingers instead of thumbs. All that said, as is common for patents, this is often not a confirmation that Sony will ever actually make a product resembling this particular invention.

With the Xbox Adaptive Controller already helping to form games more accessible, it would be rad if this became a neighborhood of focus as we move to next-gen consoles.

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