David Hobbs, Max Hughes and Sandy Walker were looking for a way to help kids with cerebral palsy improve their sense of touch and movement in their hands. What they created could open up the world of gaming to a whole new audience.

Computer games are pretty powerful tools – they’re really engaging and can help people to develop all kinds of coordination skills. David, Max and Sandy wanted to harness the power of computer games to encourage young people with cerebral palsy to practice using both of their hands. They came up with Orby - a new kind of video game controller that allows you to play games without the need to grip, pinch or pick anything up.

David Hobbs and a young man pose with Orby

Underneath the big spherical shell is a kind of joystick that players control by pushing and tilting the ball with both hands. A little motor inside Orby provides players with ‘haptic feedback’ – vibrations that can let you know when you’ve hit a target or an obstacle in the game.

Orby, a new kind of spherical video game controller

Although the Orby team started out with a really specific audience in mind, they’ve realised that Orby can help to bring the fun of gaming to a much bigger audience. There are plenty of people who struggle to use conventional video game controllers due to the complex, fine-scale movements that are often required. Orby is an innovation that brings us one step closer to making gaming accessible for everyone.

Orby was the result of a collaborative partnership between Flinders University, the University of South Australia, and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network in Adelaide, South Australia.

Want to make computer games that help people? A number of Australian universities, including Flinders University, are now offering degrees in Serious Games.

Want to learn how to make your ideas a reality? Apply for the National Questacon Invention Convention.

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Four different Orby prototypes, in order of oldest to newest from left to right.

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