Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

New game helps improve navigational skills for the blind

8:00 PM on 04.02.2013 // Taylor Stein

And you thought eyesight was a requirement

In a cooperative effort between Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, researchers have produced a new way to help the blind get around better: videogames. You may be scratching your head, as the two main components of playing most games requires the use of the hands and eyes, but head scientist Dr. Lotfi Merabet found a way.

Forced to rely on tactile and auditory cues, individuals without eyesight face more difficulty traversing unfamiliar environments. The Audio-Based Environment Simulator or AbES mimics real-world navigation by creating a virtual setting based off of computer-generated layouts of public buildings. Armed with headphones and a keyboard, participants were charged with finding specific items, namely jewels, and successfully exiting the building without getting caught by roaming guards.

While the scenario sounds like any mainstream videogame, rather than relying on sight to find a way through the environment, the user is able to utilize auditory cues to help spatially orient them to the world around them or paint a mental picture of their surroundings. Participants in the virtual test showed marked improvements in real-world navigation and were able to decrease the amount of time it took to traverse unfamiliar buildings.

Although this system sounds promising for the blind and visually impaired, it's hard to imagine what the process entails and how it actually works. In an effort to showcase the project in action, the Journal of Visualized Experiments or JoVE have produced a video that you can take a look at here. As a warning, the video is a tad dry and educational.

Dr. Merabet explains: "It is conceptually difficult for a sighted person to understand 'a video game for blind people.' What JoVE allows us to do is break down layouts of the game and strategy, show how the auditory cues can be used and how we quantify performance going from the virtual game to the physical world."

Beyond training with a keyboard, the head researchers are looking into applications for a Wii Remote and joystick as well. As it stands now, virtual navigation training is useful to over six million people in the U.S. and 285 million worldwide. The technology will have applications for not only the blind, but also those with cognitive deficits, people recovering from brain injuries, and visual impairments.

The next step after navigation, in my mind, is training the blind in the art of stealth. As the legend goes, missing one sensory outlet heightens the others to superhuman levels. Talk about an army of ninjas. All joking aside, it's great to see practical, real-world applications for gaming and it'll be interesting to see how other peripheral tools are incorporated in the future.

Virtual Games Help the Blind Navigate Unknown Territory [Scientist Daily]

Taylor Stein, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure GamerGirlTay Tips
Taylor is an avid gamer, sushi lover, and overall nerd. After founding two gaming-related sites of her own, she went on to intern with G4, and can now be found across the interwebs writing about ... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow. Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow.
Alfie avatarAlfie
Was on the front page and was greeted by a new post, which I clicked to find "You cannot see the future". Then refreshed and it was gone. I saw Chris's post on Eight Days' cancellation as it was brought, new and unready, into the world! Rare and wonderful
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Have you ever purchased a game only to regret it later and then sell it/give it away, only to even later regret selling it and wind up purchasing it again?
gajknight avatargajknight
A decadent staircase adorned in gold rises into infinite darkness. Writhing beings beyond comprehension lurk in the shadows, their mere presence encroaching on the edges of human understanding. A blood moon glows . I am losing my mind. I need more eyes...
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
We need to be implanted with microchips because I'd really like to know how much time I've spent playing different video games my entire life.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Today's agenda: job-hunting and startup of a second playthrough of either Phantom Dust or Front Mission 4. I can't decide. I'm on a sixth-gen kick.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If there are rainbows in Xenoblade Chronicles X, Reyn must be in it as well. You can't have a rainbow without Reyn, baby!
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I really hope Xenoblade become it's own franchise, it has way too much potential to simply being reduced to 2 games.
Sotanaht avatarSotanaht
Touchable Holograms? When this eventually matures and hits market, almost all our regulars will vanish for weeks.
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Xenoblade Chronicles Wii for €10? Sure, Nintendo, don't mind if I do!
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Super Smash Bros. 4 has too much content. So much so I almost don't want a sequel. I honestly hope that NX gets a "Super Smash Bros. For NX" port rather than a new installment. It could be a GOTY edition and come with all of the DLC.
Batthink avatarBatthink
Flegma avatarFlegma
Bought my first full-priced physical 3DS game ever - New Style Boutique 2: Fashion Forward. I'll try to write a post on the previous game at some point before doing the same with NSB2.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
How do you guys manage to buy all these games at day 1 with such huge backlogs?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Guys if I were to do a thing, how many of you would watch my thing because I was thinking of doing a thing but I dunno if people really like that kinda thing so I just wanted to know if you liked that thing because I'm thinking of doing a thing, you know?
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Bayonetta 2 is 40% off in the EU Nintendo eShop today. If you have a WiiU and don't have this game you are a horrible person and I want nothing to do with you. You can amend your errors by buying it. Xenoblade Wii is also 50% off as well.
El Dango avatarEl Dango
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Protag shipping is best shipping. [img][/img]
El Dango avatarEl Dango
My dreams are really weird and scary, so I hope it's okay if I let them be dreams.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Finally played the last two Shantae games. Risky's Revenge wasn't bad, but Pirate's Curse was damn good.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -