Gaming can be a great equalizer. A 13-year-old girl can take on a 72-year-old grandfather online and never know it because they're both just characters inside a game world. All they have to do is pick up a controller and play. Quadriplegics and people with limited use of their arms and hands, however, have a greater challenge. The QuadStick on Kickstarter hopes to be a gaming gateway for folks who need a different kind of controller.
The QuadStick was inspired by the work of Ken Yankelvitz, a pioneer in building mouth-controlled joysticks and other adaptive devices. Yankelvitz is currently not taking orders for new devices due to health reasons, leaving a gap in the market for gamers who can't use traditional controllers.
Enter the QuadStick. It connects via USB and is completely operated by mouth movements and sound. The gadget consists of a 3D-printed mouthpiece and sensors that recognize sips and puffs of air as well as lip position. It can be used as a mouse and connected to voice-recognition software on a PC in order to send voice commands to a PS3.
The device works with PlayStation 3, PC, and Android systems. With an adapter, it also can be used with an Xbox 360 or Xbox One, though the setup is trickier. The QuadStick can be remapped to trigger different functions in a game, giving it the flexibility to tackle a variety of playing situations.
The QuadStick has been through several prototyping phases, and testers have used it to successfully play through games including Call of Duty, BioShock, and Assassin's Creed. A $399 Kickstarter pledge puts you in line for a production QuadStick.
The project is more than halfway to its $10,000 goal with nearly a month to go. If the QuadStick is successful, it will help widen the horizons of the gaming world to include people who couldn't previously participate. Inside the game, you're not a disabled gamer, you're a warrior, a race car driver, a soldier, or an adventurer, and that experience shouldn't be limited to the able-bodied.