The 12th annual Microsoft Ability Summit last May 10-11was a satisfying event for everyone. Aside from announcing the developments of Microsoft’s Inclusive Tech Lab, the event’s highlight was the Microsoft adaptive accessories, which are meant to boost the productivity of people with disabilities and enable them to access technology just like others. The set of accessories will be coming this fall of 2022.
Microsoft adaptive accessories comprise three components designed to make putting of input in machines easier and faster for people with disabilities. They allow configuration and customization to allow users personally design them according to their specific needs and preferred setups. First in the set is the Microsoft Adaptive Mouse, which can connect wirelessly to up to three devices or via a USB-C connection. It can be used as a stand-alone mouse with a simple and compact profile, but there is also an option to use it with other accessories like the Microsoft Adaptive Mouse Tail. It also has a thumb support accessory that can switch sides, depending on whether you are left- or right-handed user. The mouse can be further customized by using the available 3D-printed mouse tail designs in the set. What’s more, the mouse can compliment self-produced 3D-printed mouse tails, allowing maximum customization of the device.
The second and third components are the Microsoft Adaptive Hub and the Microsoft Adaptive Buttons. The former basically works by connecting to up to three devices wirelessly (or via USB-C) or up to four Microsoft Adaptive Buttons. The latter, on the other hand, are wireless buttons with eight digital programmable inputs. There are three choices for it: d-pad, joystick, or dual-button design. Using any of the designs, people with problems clicking small buttons can easily perform commands and inputs. And just like the Microsoft Adaptive Mouse, the Microsoft Adaptive Buttons can work with 3D-printed accessories that can replace their toppers.
The intelligent designs of the entire set of Microsoft adaptive accessories were made possible through the company’s partnership with people with disabilities. “The new Microsoft adaptive accessories provide a highly adaptable, easy-to-use system,” writes Microsoft’s Dave Dame in a blog post. “Each piece is designed in partnership with the disability community to empower people who may have difficulty using a traditional mouse and keyboard to create their ideal setup, increase productivity, and use their favorite apps more effectively. A traditional mouse and keyboard may pose obstacles for someone with limit mobility. These adaptive accessories can perform a variety of functions, thereby alleviating a pain point for those who find it challenging to get the most out of their PC.”
It is important to note that Microsoft adaptive accessories are not the company’s first hardware product. In 2018, it introduced the $99 Xbox Adaptive Controller for gamers with limited mobility. Then, last fall, it launched the Surface Adaptive Kit for easier navigation of Surface PC.