[games_access] News Feed: Japanese Game for the Blind

hinn at uiuc.edu hinn at uiuc.edu
Tue Jun 21 14:15:29 EDT 2005


Tim Chase sent this link to the AG-Dev list which I thought 
would be of interest to a lot of us:

http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/pp.php?
id=345629850&fp=512&fpid=406

I've copied and pasted the article below in case it "goes 
away" from the site before you've had a chance to read it!

Michelle

Researcher develops computer game for the blind
Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

15/06/2005 09:13:06

A Japanese researcher has developed a computer game in which 
the player becomes the game character, the game is played in 
real space and a pair of headphones substitute for a 
monitor. 

The game is called BBBeat and requires the player to wield a 
mallet and hit computer-generated bees in order to rack up 
points. The game has no screen. Instead, the player wears 
special headphones that makes the bees seem to buzz around 
the head, and the gamer must locate them based on sound 
alone. 

The game, developed by Makoto Ohuchi of Tohoku Fukushi 
University as part of his PhD project, is intended mostly as 
a training aid to heighten the ability of the visually 
impaired to locate the source of sounds. But it can be 
enjoyed by anybody, as Ohuchi showed during a demonstration 
Friday at the university, about 400 kilometers north of 
Tokyo in the city of Sendai. 

Playing the game means first getting kitted out. The 
computer needs to be able to follow the player's movements, 
so sensors are clipped to the player's upper arm and wrist, 
and also to the headphones and the mallet. The sensors 
communicate with a control box worn around the waist, which 
in turn routes the information to a Windows PC. 

There is a monitor showing the bees and the movements of the 
player, but it is meant for people accompanying the player 
rather than the player himself. 

The game not only helps players practice locating sounds but 
also hones their ability to reach out to the source of a 
sound -- and in this case bash it with a mallet. 

Preliminary tests suggest the game may be effective. Ohuchi 
tested it by giving 10 players a similar game to play for 10 
days. Their ability to locate the source of sounds was 
measured at the start and finish of the 10-day period. Those 
who had played the game showed significant improvement, 
while a control group with no access to the game registered 
virtually no change, Ohuchi wrote in a paper on the project. 

Further tests are needed to verify the preliminary findings, 
Ohuchi cautioned. 

Plans to commercialize the game are advancing and Ohuchi 
hopes it will be available before the end of the year. 

A consortium of four companies has been working with Ohuchi 
on the project for the last two years, said Keiki Hatakeyama 
president of P Softhouse, a Sendai-based software company 
that is one of the four. Tsuken Denki Kogyo, another Sendai-
based consortium member, will handle sales of the product, 
Hatakeyama said. 

The price for the game has not yet been decided, but it will 
not be cheap, Hatakeyama said. 

Ohuchi estimated that it will likely cost several thousand 
dollars. It will be targeted at schools and rehabilitation 
centers for the blind, he said. 

Details of Ohuchi's research are due to be published in the 
proceedings of the International Conference on Auditory 
Display, which is scheduled to take place from July 6 though 
July 9 in Limerick, Ireland.


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