PlayStation Unveils Project Leonardo, A Customizable Accessibility Controller Kit

PlayStation has unveiled Project Leonardo, a “highly customizable accessibility controller kit.” 

The company revealed this during its CES 2023 presentation yesterday, stating that the kit is “designed to remove barriers to gaming and help players with disabilities play more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods on PS5.” It seems to be PlayStation’s answer to Xbox’s Adaptive Controller also aimed at accessibility for gamers. The company says it has worked with accessibility experts at organizations like AbleGamers, Special Effect, and Stack Up, as well as community members and game developers to design a controller kit like this that works “out of the box.” 

“It is built to address common challenges faced by many players with limited motor control, including difficulty holding a controller for long periods, accurately pressing small custers of buttons or triggers, or positioning thumbs and fingers optimally on a standard controller,” a PlayStation Blog post reads.  

Here’s a run down of the key features of Project Leonardo: 

  • Hardware Customizations: “It includes a robust kit of swappable components, including a variety of analog stick caps and buttons in different 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.” 
  • Button Mapping: “The controller’s buttons can be programmed to any supported function and multiple buttons can be mapped to the same function. Conversely, players can map two functions (like R2 + L2) onto the same button.”
  • Control Profiles: “Players can store their programmed button settings as control profiles and easily switch between them by pressing the profile button. Up to three control profiles can be stored and accessed by the player from their PS5 console at any time.” 

Project Leonardo can be used as a standalone controller or paired with additional Project Leonardo or DualSense controllers. Up to two Project Leonardo controllers and one DualSense can be used together to create a virtual controller, according to PlayStation. 

The controller is further expandable by four 3.5mm AUX ports “to support a variety of external switches and third-party accessibility accessories.” Furthermore, the controller’s split, symmetric design allows players to reposition the analog sticks as close together or as far apart as they want. And, because the controller lies flat and does not need to be held by a player, it can lay on a table, wheelchair tray, desk, or something else. PlayStation says it can be easily secured to AMPS mounts or tripods, and oriented 360 degrees, too. 

“Project Leonard is part of the PS5 product family and is based on the same design concept,” Sony Interactive Entertainment designer So Morimoto writes in the blog post. “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 repositionability, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping. 
“Because players can customize Project Leonardo according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own configurations. The controller can also flexibly accept combinations of accessibility accessories to create a unique aesthetic. I am excited that the design will be completed through collaboration with players rather than presenting them with a single form factor.” 

Project Leonardo does not yet have a release date or price. 

PlayStation 5

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