In the lab: Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller and accessories


When Microsoft announced its Xbox Adaptive Controller late this spring, I was not only impressed, but genuinely excited. As some of you know, my oldest daughter Ellie has Cornelia de Lange syndrome and just about every physical and mental challenge that comes along with it (plus some bonus features). I've long pondered hacking together something for her out of a HID-emulating breadboard and arcade cabinet buttons that would've resembled a much less elegant Xbox Adaptive Controller.


The loop built into the packing tape is where the story begins.

That project never got off the ground, though, so I pre-ordered Microsoft's offering on day one and it arrived yesterday. I'm not taking it out of the box yet because I'm going to attempt an unboxing video this weekend. Unboxings aren't really my thing, but I figure that special attention to packaging deserves special attention to un-packaging. Look for that video soon.

To go along with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, I picked up a couple officially approved accessories. First up is the StealthSwitch FS-2 Foot Pedal, a robust-looking steel footswitch designed to plug into alternative controllers such as the StealthSwitch3. As a gaming peripheral, it clocks in at just $20 and gives me some cheap flexibility as I go forward. Not to mention it should hold up well against Ellie's infamous Hulk-smashing.


Think the Xbox Adaptive Controller is too expensive? Hold AbleNet's beer.

In addition, I picked up the AbleNet 100SPR Specs Switch, a small plastic switch that, at $60, costs over half as much as the Xbox Adaptive Controller itself. We're treading into medical device territory here, and that isn't any fun to pay for, but it does offer some perspective and gives me another option to play with. It should be an interesting contrast to the other footswitch, at least.

Finally, I'm going to do some experimenting with homebrewed switch designs and a custom mount for them in the full review. Stay tuned for that down the road.

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