About Curriculum Vitae Projects Resources Contact
XBox 360 Controller for User with Muscular Dystrophy
A young man who loves playing XBox 360 games online with his friends has muscular dystrophy. Initially, the standard XBox 360 controller has been an incredible tool for him, as it fits his hands, allows him to actuate the controls with minimal strength and range of motion, and can also be used to control a personal computer. Unfortunately, as MD is a progressive condition, the controller has become increasingly difficult for him to use.
In order to address this problem, I have been working with an occupational therapist to determine whether a controller can be modified to fit his abilities.
I used an electric kitchen knife to carve a block of wheelchair seating foam into a replica of a controller, complete with mock thumb sticks. When positioned in his hands, this allowed us to evaluate his range of motion and determine the ideal placement of the thumb sticks and buttons. This template was then used to create the design for a new, accessible controller. In conjunction with this first design, it was necessary to:
(3.5mm mono jacks are very common in the assistive technology field, and are compatible with most "ability switches." This person will use several "Ultimate Switches" places around his head, and two string switches attached to his toes to actuate the functions associated with these 3.5mm jacks.)
This plan was sent to Ben Heckendorn, who hacked a standard XBox 360 controller into shape, making the requested modifications.
Unfortunately, the modified controller wasn't a perfect fit. The user could not reach the X or A buttons consistently, and the replacement of the D-Pad with a thumb stick didn't improve function as expected. However, the other modifications worked beautifully. This is a complex problem, and some trial and error is expected, but it's still frustrating when things don't work out as expected.
So plans were drawn up for version 2. The following changes to the previously modified controller were required:
Because the D-Pad contacts of the controller were destroyed during the addition of the thumb stick, it was necessary to start over with a fresh controller, rather than continuing to modify the same one. Ben Heckendorn continued the work, and sent along version 2 for testing.
In summary, the modifications to the fresh XBox 360 controller were:
With these modifications, version 2 is a success! Though the addition of switch jacks rendered the D-Pad nonfunctional, he can use separate switches for all four directions when necessary. He currently uses:
Each switch can be plugged into any jack, and used for any of the available functions, so they can be tailored to fit each game. If he later discovers that he needs more switches, they can easily be added. A "sip and puff" switch is a likely option.
Copyright © 2012 Gavin Philips. All rights reserved.