QuadStick controller lets quadriplegics play complex games

Uses straw sensors to emulate a gamepad, mouse and keyboard.

There's a lot of things we take for granted in life: from our vision and hearing, to a roof over our heads, to a smattering of Steam sales ensuring that we never, ever don't have anything to play. But one thing most of us tend to forget is not everyone has 10 working fingers to engage in our favourite pastime with. That's where the recently launched Kickstarter for Quadstick comes in. It's a controller that lets quadriplegic people emulate all the functions of a gamepad, mouse and keyboard on PC, PS3 and Android devices.

How, you ask? It's rather complicated, but it involves a device comprised of a joystick, four sip & puff sensors, a lip position sensor, and a push switch. Data collected through this contraption is then converted into input via a USB or Bluetooth connection.

The actual controls themselves are based largely on sipping and puffing to various degrees on straws to switch between game modes. One mode is the left analogue stick, another the right, one is a mix, another is for D-pad selection, and the final mode is for mouse input. To get a better idea of how it all works, check out the video below where a quadrapalegic fellow uses the QuadStick to play Call of Duty: Ghosts on PS3.

In addition to the Quadstick's physical inputs, it also has voice-activated controls both for in-game actions (like "jump" or "shoot"), as well as key mapping and setup.

Founded by Fred Davison, the inventor was motivated to develop the Quadstick after experimenting with different input devices to aid his mother who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ie Lou Gehrig's disease). He then stumbled upon Ken Yankelevitz's Quad Control Joystick and decided to build off this - a necessity as Yankelevitz, who's been producing video game controllers for the disabled since 1981, is in his seventies and now retired due to health reasons. As such, his work is no longer being produced, so he helped Davison carry on where he left off.

"Video games today are as much about the social aspects as they are about presenting an intellectual puzzle or entertainment, and developing a tool that would allow disabled gamers to play those games at a high level would allow them to more fully participate in that world," Davison stated on the QuadStick Kickstarter page. "There were several solutions that let quadriplegics use a computer fairly well; but for modern game consoles, where speed and timing are critical, few products seemed to really solve the problem, especially for gamers with very limited mobility."

Unfortunately, the QuadStick isn't compatible with Xbox 360, Xbox One or PS4, though Davison says this can be overridden with the Cronus Max adapter on Xbox 360 at least. It still hasn't been tested on Xbox One, and Cronus is working on developing PS4 support.

Davison's $10,000 Kickstarter goal will finance the production of 25 QuadSticks - priced at $399 a piece - but more could be produced based on demand and how much funding the project receives. Having just launched today, it's already raised $3319 with 29 days to go before its 6th March deadline.

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The default QuadStick control scheme. It's been tested with Call of Duty: Ghosts, BioShock, Journey, Assassin's Creed and Grand Turismo.

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