Students at Trinity Hall recently designed functioning adaptive video game controllers for children with physical limitations as part of an engineering project. All Trinity Hall, students are required to take four years of engineering, and the senior-level engineering class focuses on the innovative nature of modern manufacturing, product design, robotics and automation.
This year’s seniors derived their designs from real-life accessibility challenges to create and code tactile devices to engage children with physical disabilities such as juvenile arthritis and quadriplegia in a way that promotes equity, socialization and enjoyment.
Using foam board, wood, springs, conductive metal sheets and paint, the students constructed controllers that adapted to the physical limitations of their target audience. These controllers ranged from foot- or head-operated devices to those that prioritized size and shape for enhanced usability. They then coded their devices using Arduino-like technology to connect to popular computer games such as Tetris, Snake and Roblox.
Senior Jacqueline Pena Gomez explained, “The value of inclusivity is important in the Trinity Hall community, and understanding the struggles of children with physical limitations to develop these gaming controllers was an eye-opening experience. My engineering partner and I were able to successfully complete various trials of our device and receive positive feedback from students utilizing our device.”
Trinity Hall STEM faculty member Kali Lambrou added, “Human-centered design principles, especially evoking empathy when developing a design, underpin every project in our engineering program. This project allowed the students to think outside the box about the meaning of video gameplay and the impact of its accessibility. The unique nature of the prototypes also created opportunities for wiring circuitry that pushed their understanding of the functionality and consistency of controllers, since some solutions included headgear and 3D-printed components. The lasting effects of this project are profound and transformative, empowering each student with the confidence to break down barriers, facilitate engagement and enrich the lives of all individuals, regardless of their abilities.”
These seniors will also code their own video games to complement their current project and put their gaming controllers to use.
Trinity Hall is an independent, all-girls school that educates and empowers young women in the Catholic tradition through an innovative college preparatory program grounded in four core values of leadership, respect, perseverance and faith. To learn more, visit TrinityHallNJ.org or call 732-291-1297.
Photos courtesy of Trinity Hall