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Sony ponders PlayStation accessibility gadget for blind gamers




A PlayStation gadget that would make gaming more accessible to the blind may be in development. Or at least, that’s what can be inferred from Sony’s new accessibility tech patent the company secured several weeks back. The concept device is meant to attach to a DualShock controller and act as a gaming-friendly braille board of sorts. More specifically, Sony envisioned a detachable plate that can convey textual information via haptic feedback while simultaneously allowing the player to control certain game features via touch.

The Next Step in Gaming Accessibility

Sony’s original application argued such a creation could provide tremendous value to visually impaired gamers, asserting the current state of gaming accessibility tech is underwhelming. By far the most common such option today is text-to-speech, a tech category that’s still far from perfect, the documentation reads. For example, if a menu opens up while another action is taking place on-screen, modern text-to-speech applications will disrupt gameplay and break immersion. Other features like zooming, color inversion, contrast, and text controls need constant monitoring that can also disrupt one’s gaming experience, the company’s attorneys wrote, concluding that conveying text via Sony’s gaming braille plate concept would be a superior solution.

Technical considerations aside, the newly patented solution also relies on summarizing excessive volumes of text, a common occurrence in modern games. E.g. lengthy explanations of status changes could be communicated in a binary manner using directional arrows paired with the same tactile attachment, according to Sony.

Improving gaming accessibility solutions has been an area of interest of both Sony and Microsoft in recent years. Back in 2018, Microsoft launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a gamepad with extremely customizable inputs specifically designed for gamers with impaired mobility. Assuming Sony turns its latest concept into a commercial reality, such a gadget would presumably be made available for the PlayStation 5, i.e. DualShock 5. The latter has already been confirmed to pack some next-gen punch in the haptic feedback department, backed by voice coil actuators.