Video game Trackmania has become accessible to the blind and visually impaired, thanks to company Artha France’s new technology. The tech includes a belt, your skin, and a camera and it allows the visually impaired to nail some laps on Trackmania.
Using a haptic feedback belt strapped to their bodies, gamers are able to perceive their gaming environment. This is possible because sensations from the screen are transmitted, via a camera, to their skin. These players are able to see parts of the game because the skin sensors transmit data to their visual cortex. Just because a user’s eyes aren’t up to snuff doesn’t mean the translation equipment is damaged.
Thanks to @artha_france, Trackmania is accessible to blind and visually impaired people.
— Trackmania (@Trackmania) October 21, 2022
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“The images displayed on the lumbar belt can come from both the 3D sensors located on the glasses and the screen of a computer. They are then adapted for tactile restitution, then conveyed as sensory information by the nerves to the visual cortex of the brain,“ says Artha France on its website.
Part of the reason the technology has been successful on Trackmania is due to its realistic features. The game imitates real-life scenarios and demands quick reactions from players. Artha France has also tested its tech in other situations, like Minecraft. The tech was also used to allow some users to drive an actual car on a physical circuit.
Video: Artha France explains its tech
Basic training for using the haptic belt takes as short as ten minutes. You won’t be roaming video game worlds in that time, however. It takes a couple of hours for movements to become more accurate. Ten hours of usage increase the accuracy of the belt even further, allowing users to ‘see’ up to ten metres in front of them. According to Artha France, “[t]he mental load becomes zero and perception becomes a reflex, which makes the device very relaxing to use”.