Researchers at the IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology) have created an acoustic VR-powered archery game to enable blind people to experience a sport typically focused on precise vision.
With the initiative, the researchers aim to understand how blind people move and orient themselves in space using an engaging sport as the medium. The platform could help discover ways to enhance their orientation skills to help them become more independent.
“The ability to orient in space is obviously linked to vision, but the mechanisms by which this happens and the strategies used by the human brain to cope with vision loss are still unclear,” said Dr. Monica Gori, who coordinates the Unit for Visually Impaired People (UVIP) at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genova (Italy). “Our last research result is a further step forward in the understanding of how space and body combine to create the sense of space.”
Unlike the popular notion, blind people do not have exceptional hearing capabilities. A few years ago, Monica and her team had demonstrated that their auditory skills depend on several factors.
However, the new platform highlighted that congenitally blind people struggle at coordinating head and trunk to reorient towards new targets. The key information source they rely on is the body, including the vestibular, proprioceptive, and motor cues, instead of environmental sounds.
Davide Esposito, developer of the archery game and member of the UVIP Lab, said, “Scientific purpose of the game aside, giving blind people the chance to try virtual reality was fulfilling. Many of our participants were having a lot of fun while doing the experiment and wanted to keep playing even after the experiment ended.”
Follow us on LinkedIn
Read other Articles