Every year, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) blesses us with its annual trade show, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where future-forward products are debuted, partnerships are forged and investments are made. CES 2023 was no exception, with countless inventions already making headlines worldwide.
Among them is Sony’s Project Leonardo, a brand new gaming controller for its PlayStation 5 that aims to bring improved accessibility to players with disabilities. After teaming up with several charities, including US-based AbleGamers and UK-based SpecialEffect, the Japanese multinational conglomerate revealed its “highly customisable kit” made of different buttons, triggers and sticks at the renowned event on Wednesday 4 January.
Speaking to the BBC about the promising controller, a Sony Interactive Entertainment official said that Project Leonardo would work “out of the box” to help gamers play “more easily, more comfortably and for longer periods.”
“We feel the breadth of hardware and software customisation options in Project Leonardo is unique and stands out from any other accessibility controller on the market today,” the official went on to say. Although Microsoft released a controller with the same mission back in 2018—the Adaptive Controller, which sells for £74.99 at its UK store though extra buttons and joysticks can cost much more—Sony seems to believe its own technology will go above and beyond when it comes to providing greater accessibility to gaming.
“Project Leonardo is a true passion project for our team. We’ve drawn on 28 years of design expertise at PlayStation to create a controller kit that we hope many players with disabilities will find useful.”
Manufacturers other than Microsoft, such as Hori, have also developed accessible controllers. In 2022, the third-party video game hardware company known for its special focus on retro-themed game controllers 8BitDo made one for gamers with spinal muscular atrophy after being contacted by a parent.
Not one to miss a good opportunity to show off, also at CES 2023, Sony unveiled the first trailer for the feature film based on the racing game Gran Turismo and revealed it had sold more than 30 million PlayStation 5 consoles as of December 2022.
Project Leonardo, which can be paired with an existing DualSense controller or used on its own, is currently in development and does not have a release date or price yet.