Power wheelchairs are now compatible with the Xbox Adaptive Controller
Thanks to a new device, users of power wheelchairs can connect the mobility devices they use every day directly to a modern gaming console for the first time. The device is called the Freedom Wing, and is compatible with the Xbox Adaptive Controller. Plans for the Freedom Wing will be made available free online, and early versions are already shipping out to those who need them.
The Freedom Wing is a joint effort by AbleGamers, a charity dedicated to supporting people with disabilities, and A.T. Makers. Founded by Bill Binko, A.T. Makers brings together those who work in the field of assistive technology with modern-day tinkerers and high school technology programs, including robotics teams. According to a video published Friday on AbleGamers’ YouTube channel, which we’ve also embedded above, the device requires a printed circuit board and some basic soldering. The total cost of supplies to make one is between $30 and $35.
The way that power wheelchairs work is by putting controls where users can easily reach them. But those controls don’t natively talk to modern game consoles. Using inputs built into the Xbox Adaptive Controller, AbleGamers and A.T. Makers have been able to allow a power wheelchair’s single, familiar control system to do double duty as a game controller.
“This is really handy because people have already positioned these [controls] on their chairs,” Binko said in the video. “They have the muscle memory and [are] able to use them. Turns out it’s a really great way to get gaming to somebody who uses a power chair.”
Early versions of the Freedom Wing adapter are being hand-assembled by students in Orlando, Florida, on GRA-V Team 5816 Robotics. AbleGamers said on Twitter that adapters are already shipping.
For more information on AbleGamers, or to make a donation, check out their website.