At IE, we believe in inclusivity and we're always excited when new projects make the world a better place for the visually impaired. In the past, we've covered projects that allow the visually impaired to read 3D maps and others that allow robodogs to guide them via the use of lasers.
Imagine our excitement when we discovered that researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan conceived of a way for the visually impaired to play badminton, according to designboom.
The invention consists of a noisy drone that is used as the ball. The drone flies slow enough and makes enough noise that visually impaired players can both hear and sense it coming. They then receive the drone with a pair of rackets that can identify the drone-ball via a sensor system that is attached to their frames.
The smart rackets have no netting and instead use sensors that allow them to detect the drone as it passes through their hoop, thus changing its direction and sending it back towards the opponent.
In order to build this innovative game, researchers had many interviews with individuals with low vision. In doing so, they were able to gauge what would work and what would not. Most of the interviewees said that in real badminton the issues were that the ball was too small and that it moved too fast. So, the researchers got to work trying to fix those complaints.
The game gives the visually impaired an opportunity to play sports like never before and to partake in social activities. Best of all, this game is not limited to the visually impaired and is accessible for all.
Check out how it works in the video below.