PlayStation wants to ensure that everyone in the world, including those with disabilities, can enjoy PlayStation games to their fullest, or, at least, much more easily, according to a CES 2023 announcement from the company for a new peripheral dubbed Project Leonardo, a highly customizable accessibility controller kit designed for PS5.
“Project Leonardo for PS5 is a canvas for gamers to craft their own play experience,” said Hideaki Nishino, Senior Vice President, Platform Experience, SIE, on the official PlayStation blog of the controller, which features a circular shape. “It includes a robust kit of swappable components, including a variety of analog stick caps and buttons in different shapes and sizes.”
“Players can use these components to craft a wide array of control layouts. And the distance of the analog stick from the game pad can be adjusted to suit the player’s preference. These components allow players to find a configuration that works for their strength, range of motion, and particular physical needs.”
Additionally, Project Leonardo offers a number of software customization options, including button mapping and control profiles, the latter of which can be stored and easily switched between:
- Button mapping
- The controller’s buttons can be programmed to any supported function and multiple buttons can be mapped to the same function. Conversely, players can map two functions (like “R2” + “L2”) onto the same button.
- Control profiles
- Players can store their programmed button settings as control profiles and easily switch between them by pressing the profile button.
- Up to three control profiles can be stored and accessed by the player from their PS5 console at any time.
Sony Interactive Entertainment designer So Morimoto on how his team approached the industrial design of Project Leonardo, which can be used as a standalone controller or paired with additional Project Leonardo or DualSense wireless controllers:
Project Leonardo is part of the PS5 product family and is based on the same design concept. We were inspired by the idea of all players enjoying the world of PlayStation together. Our team tested over a dozen designs with accessibility experts, looking for approaches that would help address key challenges to effective controller use. We finally settled on a ‘split controller’ design that allows near free-form left/right thumbstick repositionability, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping.
Because players can customize Project Leonardo according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own configurations. The controller can also flexibly accept combinations of accessibility accessories to create a unique aesthetic. I am excited that the design will be completed through collaboration with players rather than presenting them with a single form factor.
PlayStation couldn’t say when Project Leonardo will be available, as the controller is still being developed, but it continues to gather valuable feedback from the gaming community to help shape the product.
The DualSense Edge, PlayStation’s answer to Microsoft’s Xbox Elite controllers, will be released on January 26, 2023, for $199.99.