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Microsoft files patent for controller accessory with Braille input and output

Gamepad would allow users to read and input Braille text, as well as convert speech commands to input

Following the success of the Xbox Adaptive Controller and a pledge to continue pursuing inclusive design, Microsoft seems to at least be considering one other type of new, accessible control scheme: a Braille controller.

Dutch website Let's Go Digital spotted a patent filed by Microsoft and published last week for an Xbox controller accessory that would enable Braille output. The controller resembles a normal Xbox Gamepad, but has additional hardware attached to the back of the controller that seems to allow users to both read Braille output and produce Braille input into a game.

The patent shows a panel on the back of a controller with nine dot matrices that seem to be able to form Braille letters, allowing the player to read the Braille by feeling the back of the controller. There are also six paddles or levers protruding from the back panel that seem to allow users to input Braille characters to be read by the system.

Let's Go Digital adds that the patent says the controller would also allow for speech conversion into input, and features a variety of haptic feedback signals.

Since this is just a patent, it isn't guaranteed that this project is specifically in the works at Microsoft. However, if it were, it would follow from Phil Spencer's pledge that the Xbox Accessibility Controller (whose creators were among our People of the Year honorees in 2018) was "only one step on our journey to inclusive design."

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