The Xbox Adaptive Controller already expands the usability of Xbox for gamers with disabilities, and today, a third-party add-on takes that controller to the next level, allowing gamers to turn their power wheelchairs into game controllers. Called the Freedom Wing Adapter, the box connects the Xbox Adaptive Controller to a wheelchair through its 9-pin port. This means a joystick that controls a wheelchair every day can be turned into a controller, which is particularly useful for people who are already used to their joysticks and buttons.
Charity organization AbleGamers created the device alongside ATMakers, a group of tech makers and enthusiasts who focus on assistive technology. The Freedom Wing Adapter is being given out through AbleGamers, and people can apply for a grant for one on AbleGamers’ website.
ATMakers found a company to make the printed circuit boards, which it says will sell for around $7, meaning gamers can build it on their own for about $35 with all the other required materials once the instructions to build the device are eventually published. You can get a general idea of how to make one by watching the video below. And AbleGamers COO Steve Spohn tells The Verge the 9-pin connectors needed to connect the wheelchair to the device are standard on wheelchair joysticks. So it seems that, in theory, this device should work with many wheelchairs currently on the market.
Microsoft debuted its Xbox Adaptive Controller in 2018 as a customizable option for gamers with disabilities. It features two large programmable buttons and 19 jacks that can be connected to a range of joysticks, buttons, and switches to make it easier for a wider range of people to play games on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.
Since its release, the company has partnered with organizations like the US Department of Veteran Affairs to provide them with units. People have also hacked the device to get it to function with Nintendo Switch consoles. The $99 controller was designed with the express purpose to be flexible and compatible with as many devices as possible, and the Freedom Wing Adapter builds on that idea.
Update January 31st, 5:44PM ET: Added information from AbleGamers COO Steve Spohn and additional context about forthcoming instructions to build the device.
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