Charity creates Xbox 360 controller out duct tape, Velcro and a bag of rice

AbleGamers Foundation creates working gamepad out of duct tape, Velcro and a bag of rice

Steve Spohn is wheelchair-bound, on a ventilator and can barely move because of muscular dystrophy, but he's still able to play video games. He participated in last week's Games for Health conference in Boston, where the AbleGamers Foundation hosted the Hardware Hackers Challenge, a contest to build a handicap-accessible game controller in under two hours.

The result was a very rough, but functioning prototype of an Xbox 360 controller that had buttons and joysticks that could be moved around and assigned functions.

To see a video report, click here.

"I think the controller itself is important because when you're disabled, sometimes you're bed-bound ... and really, video games are your escape and controllers allow you to get to them," said Spohn.

The prototype, built from Xbox 360 controller parts, duct tape, Velcro and a bag of rice, was designed with Spohn's limited range of motion in mind.

"The real benefit is that all these buttons are actually considered blank, so you can assign any function you want to them," said Adam Coe, president of Evil Controllers, an Arizona-based company that modifies existing controllers to bring more functionally and flexibility to gaming. "You can make them all the 'A' button, you can make them all the 'B' button, you can do whatever you want."

Coe helped build the controller along with Ben Heckendorn and Suzanne Papajohn.

The controller also included a T-shirt that had buttons in the shoulders so that when a user shrugs, buttons are activated.

Mark Barlet, CEO of AbleGamers, a public charity that advocates for disabled people to take advantage of digital entertainment, said that the shoulder-activated buttons weren't very reliable, but that it was "a step in the right direction."

The homemade controller is far from commercialization, but Spohn hopes it one day could come to market. "I hope it's the beginning of a well-polished product," he said.

"It's important for people like me to have access to the outside world," Spohn said. "And for some of us, that's through games."

Spohn can move his fingers, shrug his shoulders, speak and flex his calf. Barlet said Spohn is resistant to using sip-puff controllers, or mice you can control with your mouth, because "he feels like that's giving up."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?