Supporting Design Excellence

Microsoft® - Xbox One® Controller

While creating the Xbox One® controller, the immediate successor to the Xbox 360® controller, Microsoft® faced the difficult task of making the “Best-in-Class Controller” even better. (Microsoft’s legacy Xbox 360 controller had already found great success within both the gaming community and the press.) Specifically, while creating the Xbox One controller Microsoft wanted to appeal to a broader range of ages and hand sizes through a highly ergonomic design. Microsoft reached out to Kaleidoscope Innovation for added support to their team and utilized the company’s Onsite Services. Through this offering, Microsoft brought a Kaleidoscope designer onto their team to help scale their technical staff in a critical time of need, while maintaining confidentiality of their proprietary information with a trusted company.

The Challenge

Improved Ergonomics. Broad Appeal.

How does one improve upon an already wildly successful product? Microsoft had already shipped tens of millions of Xbox 360 consoles1, which were loved by their customers. Ultimately, Microsoft decided that some of the major objectives included improving the ergonomics in a way that benefitted a wider range of ages and hand sizes. As part of this, they needed to factor in how these changes would affect all of the major genres of games in which their customers relied (i.e. sports games, driving games, fantasy, etc.).

The Services

Embedded Team Member

A Kaleidoscope Innovation designer, via the company’s Onsite Services offering, worked at Microsoft as part of their Xbox One controller team. The Kaleidoscope designer worked alongside a Microsoft Human Factors professional and project manager, providing CAD mockups of the external designs and the internal componentry.

The Process

Comprehensive Study

The Microsoft team began by finding opportunities to improve the Xbox 360 controller, and while doing that they isolated different features and tested several variations focused on each individual feature. Between the exhaustive human factors tests and constant reworking of prototypes in the model shop, the team built well over 100 models in the process of developing the Xbox One controller.

The Product

Xbox One Controller

The Microsoft team created the Xbox One controller with improved features. With support from Kaleidoscope’s Onsite Services, the team redesigned the thumb stick to facilitate more performance with less motion. They also used a unique custom injection molding process to improve the plastic A, B, X and Y buttons for greater visibility and a more premium look. Further, the all-new ergonomic design included removal of the Xbox 360 battery bump, new trigger designs with side detail, a unique v-neck feature with a chrome backlit Xbox button, a unique IR material front bumper area for auto pairing, and diamond grip thumb stick tops. Microsoft made these changes along with a number of other significant performance enhancements.
Microsoft Xbox Black

The Result

Another Iconic Product

The team completed the world-class, ergonomically sound Xbox One controller on time and on budget. They met their objectives to improve the ergonomics to accommodate a greater range of ages and hand sizes across game genres and improve upon the successes of the difficult-to-beat Xbox 360 controller. Additionally, the controller has found critical acclaim in both the press and among influential gamers in Xbox’s target market. The work done on this original Xbox One controller also became the core form factor and ergonomic model for subsequent controllers in the Xbox One product line such as the Xbox One S, Xbox One X and Xbox Elite controllers.