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