In a video streamed by AbleGamers via YouTube on Jan. 31, the companies revealed that they had worked together to develop a new adaptor, called the Freedom Wing Adaptor. With it, gamers who use a Power Wheelchair can plug their chair into an Xbox Adaptive Controller, which then allows them to control games directly from their chairs.
Not only that, but AbleGamers is going to bring the tech to gamers who need it completely free, just as they’ve done with other accessibility tech in the past.
“I’ve been searching for a way to use a power wheelchair to control an Xbox for 15 years,” Steven Spohn, AbleGamers’ COO, wrote in a tweet following the announcement. “It took meeting my very good friend @at_makers to finally make that dream come true. Now, profoundly disabled gamers like me will be able to use their own power wheelchairs to play our way.”
The creation of the tech was first conceptualized after Spohn met with Bill Benko, founder of ATMakers, in September of 2019 at the ATMakers Fair in Pittsburgh. There, Spohn saw the potential for a new kind of gaming accessibility tech in a micro-proportional joystick, meant to control Power Chairs, which ATMakers was showcasing.
“When he saw this, he wanted something different,” Benko says in the Freedom Wing Adaptor reveal video. “He didn’t want to emulate one of these joysticks. He wanted to use it to control a gaming system.”
“Turns out, a lot of the work we had done in emulating one of (the joysticks) was actually very useful for trying to read it, and so we created a board which will read the input from one of these proportional devices that is on people’s power chairs and feed it directly into the Xbox Adaptive Controller.”
The reveal video itself goes over some of the basic tech involved in making the Adaptor, and shows off just how fluidly players can play games with it. Anyone with even a passing interest in accessibility in gaming will want to watch the video for themselves below.
The Freedom Wing Adaptor is only the latest piece of accessibility tech revealed in recent years that is breaking new ground. In 2018, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which allows players to more easily play games if a disability makes playing with the standard controller’s gamepad difficult.
More on that can be found here.