Most of us watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, right? Well, be on the lookout for a very special commercial this year from Microsoft.
There will be an advertisement about Microsoft’s new Xbox Adaptive Controller and it will probably make you cry happy tears to see how the controller has helped people with disabilities participate more fully in gaming.
The best part is that AOTA members were involved in designing the controller! Occupational therapist Erin Muston-Firsch helped the Microsoft design team in the development of the controller, working with them for years as they tested and tweaked the product.
Erin is a part of the Assistive Technology Lab at Craig Hospital in Colorado. She has been using video games with her clients who have had spinal cord and brain injuries.
Watch the extended version of the Super Bowl ad below (or here).
This article on the Craig Hospital website goes into detail why the Xbox team sought out the partnership with occupational therapists and clients with disabilities:
“There’s a mantra among the disability community, which is ‘Nothing about us without us,’” said Evelyn Thomas, Accessibility Program Manager for Xbox. “That’s why we enlisted partners like Craig Hospital to gather feedback so we could create a highly customized controller that would really work for people with limited mobility.”
Xbox also partnered with AOTA members and occupational therapists Erik Johnson and Kaitlyn Jones, who work at Warfighter Engaged, a non-profit organization that creates adapted video game equipment for severely wounded veterans
In fact, it was a Warfighter Engaged tweet that sparked the idea for the controller at Xbox in the first place! Check out this Microsoft article about how the project started after a Microsoft engineer saw a photo of a custom gaming controller made by Warfighter Engaged.
AOTA members can read this thread on CommunOT by Erin on how she got involved in the project.
You can hear Erin, Erik, and Kaitlyn speak about the controller and the Xbox project if you’re going to AOTA Annual Conference & Expo in New Orleans. Put Technology Panel 202A on your schedule now! You won’t want to miss it, so be sure to register for Conference today.
You can also try out the controller yourself in the Expo Hall at Conference! Visit booths 1651 and 1653 to test it out.
If you are interested in more of a deep dive in OT’s role with video gaming and virtual reality consider registering for the Pre-Conference Institute 019: Virtual Reality Immersion Lab: Therapeutic Use of Virtual Reality in OT. Erin Muston-Firsch, Robert Ferguson, and Chad Sanders will be leading the 6-hour institute on Wednesday, April 3 in New Orleans.