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Sony’s Inventive ‘Project Leonardo’ Could Solve One of Gaming’s Biggest Problems

Sony is letting everyone join the party. In a bid to make gaming more accessible to everyone, the PlayStation manufacturer revealed during its CES 2023 presentation that it’s hard at work on a new highly customisable controller kit, codenamed “Project Leonardo” for PlayStation 5. This new kit positions itself for people with restricted motor control and is designed to “remove barriers to gaming and help players with disabilities play more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods on PS5.”

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Project Leonardo for PlayStaion 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The Project Leonardo customisable controller kit will work “out of the box” with your PS5 and is being developed after talking with video game accessibility experts and organisations like AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up. This kit will work alongside different third-party accessibility accessories and connect with the PS5 “to open up new ways of gaming.”

The kit consists of a collection of trigger buttons that can be switched around a wide circular gamepad. A joystick is included as well which can be adjusted relative to the gamepad. In addition to the complete set of swappable components, there’s even a bunch of analog stick caps and buttons in various 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,” says Sony’s blog. Better still, Sony’s Project Leonardo kit can be used independently or paired with DualSense controllers.

Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

There’s even button-mapping functionality available and the ability to store three different configurations as profiles. You get four 3.5mm AUX ports to house the different external accessibility accessories and switches. Thanks to the Leonardo kit’s split, symmetric design, users will be able to reposition the analog sticks as per their preferences. The controller doesn’t need to be held and can be laid flat on a smooth surface or mounted on a tripod.

Sony Interactive’s designer So Morimoto talked a bit about how he and his team went about Project Leonardo, saying, “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 reposition-ability, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping.”

In the blog, Sony said that Project Leonardo is currently in active development, and the company will continue to collect feedback from the community. Hence, there’s no word surrounding the price or its release date. Clearly, Sony is trying to catch up with Microsoft, which already is a major player in gaming accessibility tech. It will be interesting to see how the Project Leonardo customisable controller kit stacks up against the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which is both inexpensive and a popular choice.

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Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5 | Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

CONTRIBUTOR

Shubhendu Vatsa

Shubhendu Vatsa is an experienced reporter specialising in video game, eSports and technology coverage. A BTech IT graduate, Shubhendu has previously written for entertainment-based publications such as GiveMeSport, Touch, Tap, Play, Attack of the Fanboy, EssentiallySports, Twinfinite and The Load Out.