Microsoft has revealed a new line of adaptive accessories to help people with disabilities who struggle with the typical keyboard and mouse layout.
Announced during Ability Summit 2022 (opens in new tab), the new devices are the Microsoft Adaptive Mouse, Adaptive Button, and the Adaptive Hub (opens in new tab). Each one was made working closely with community members in order to create the best possible products that enable people with disabilities to use apps more easily.
The Adaptive Mouse is made of three individual pieces: a central core, thumb support, and a mouse tail. The last two are accessories that can be attached to the core in order to meet the needs of the user. For example, larger grips can be attached to the core for an easier grasp and will work equally as well for left-handed or right-handed people.
The core functions as a standalone mouse and can be connected to up to three other devices wirelessly or via USB. It also works with custom 3D-printed tails in case if any of the initial pieces don’t work for you.
The Adaptive Button and Hub can be used together as an alternate keyboard. You can program up to eight different inputs to the Button from keystrokes to macros. The top of the Button can be removed and changed to something different.
Besides the base top, you can switch between a D-pad, joystick, or dual-button setup. And if those don’t work for you, the Adaptive Button supports custom 3-D printed tops, just like the mouse.
And the Adaptive Hub can connect up to four individual Adaptive Buttons wirelessly plus has three different profiles for different devices. The Hub also has several 3.5mm inputs so you can connect wired accessories.
The lineup will launch sometime during Fall 2022, however, no price has been revealed. You can sign up for an email group to get more information as it gets closer to release.
Analysis: Microsoft leads the way on greater accessibility
In recent years, Microsoft has been growing its catalog of accessible devices and software to help people with various types of disabilities.
For example, back in 2018, Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller to give people with mobility issues a way to play video games that they might otherwise have been locked out of.
The controller is rather expensive however with a $99.99 price tag and so risks being prohibitive for many in the disabled community. Microsoft’s newest Adaptive Accessories, however, follows up the company's previous work with the Surface Adaptive Kit from last year – which is a much more affordable $14.99 – and it looks to be a more affordable option.
The Adaptive Accessories will likely be somewhere between those two in terms of price, but we'll have to wait for a full announcement to know for sure.
A lot of companies have started to take accessibility more seriously and Microsoft has been leading that charge, so it should definitely be commended. We look forward to seeing what more the company has in store in the years ahead, especially since it makes such a huge difference with those who benefit from their work.