Advanced Embodiment Design, Spring 2021


Game Controller for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy


Xbox adaptive controller

As Duchenne progresses, rapid movements, lifting controller and pressing buttons become progressively more difficult. Hands get clamped shut as muscles contract. While controllers for people with disabilities exist, these blanket solutions are rarely effective.  

I worked on ergonomics and product experience fields of the project. Most solutions in Theria lie in the intersection of these areas.



To provide value, the controller must be usable in late stages of the disease. For the gamers to get accustomed to using it well before, the controller must be desirable in early stages as well. This is why the product adapts to the disease progression of the gamer. 

Theria can be used multiple configurations.  Handheld>docked to desk>docked to chair



To extend gaming duration, the following changes were implemented:

>    Decrease fatigue by using digital buttons and a trackpad with low press force thresholds
>    Minimize finger travel and decrease reaction time with updated button layout
>    Springy soft body provides comfort for different hands & stimulates stretching of contracting hand muscles


Product Experience

Design vision was identified as follows: "Enhance the competence and autonomy of gamers with DMD for them to find daily stimulation and connect with communities in online gaming platforms"

We aimed for Theria to be visually categorized as a gaming device. The first way it achieves this is through moving away from modular visual of current "adaptable" controllers that consist of discrete components. 

The second component of this goal is the aesthetic decisions. Theria has a look with both retro and futuristic elements to make it visually novel yet categorically familiar. The contemporary split body design is embedded with new technologies. These are encased in a structure that reflects retro gaming aesthetics with internally lit, see through material.