Sony just unveiled a customizable PlayStation 5 controller to make gaming more accessible


By Michael Grothaus

Sony has just offered a sneak peek at its newest accessory for the PlayStation 5 and it could be life-changing for some gamers who have motor-related disabilities. Codenamed “Project Leonardo,” the PS5 controller is unlike any controller most gamers have used. It features a donut-shaped design with modular buttons that can be added, rearranged, and removed to meet the needs of individual gamers.

Its buttons come in different shapes and sizes and can be further customized via software mapping, allowing one button to perform a task that would normally take two buttons to carry out. Further, the Project Leonardo controller features an analog joystick that can be positioned nearly anywhere on the controller, and the controller itself can lie flat on a surface or can be attached to mounts that enable it to be positioned anywhere in 360º.

The Project Leonardo controller is just the latest example of a major tech company building a product from the ground up that is centered around inclusive design. And Sony isn’t even the biggest player in the space. As Fast Company reported in December, Microsoft launched its Inclusive Tech Lab last year to put inclusive design front and center in the development of its products.

Inclusive design is about more than being considerate of the fact that users have varying abilities and needs: It’s also just good business sense. A Forrester estimate says consumers with disabilities spend a combined $2 trillion a year.

While Sony showed off the Project Leonardo controller at CES 2023 this week, the company notes that it is still a work in progress—and a collaborative one at that. It’s working hand-in-hand with accessibility experts, gamers, and developers to refine and evolve the controller. The company says it looks forward to sharing more information about Project Leonardo in the future, including announcing new features and a final shipping date.

Fast Company