A French organization is developing technology to give visually impaired people more ability to perceive their environment, and they’re using video games to test and spread it. In the process they managed to make Trackmania accessible even to the completely blind.
Thanks to @artha_france, Trackmania is accessible to blind and visually impaired people. Join us at #ParisGamesWeek at the @JeuxMadeInFR stand November 2-6 to experience Trackmania with @artha_france. pic.twitter.com/PYrTFQPmcrOctober 21, 2022
Artha France has developed a haptic feedback belt that transmits information from an input such as a camera or screen to skin sensations. Using a virtual environment to test the technology was initially a low-key way to test it, but it seems to have become its goal as the hardware has developed.
Trackmania was clearly the choice, not only because it’s consistent and relatively simple, but because it mimics many real-world challenges that require players to have a relatively quick approach in consistent environments. Learning to use the technology while playing Trackmania meant that quick reaction came in handy.
When testing began on the device, it would take anywhere from six to 20 hours for users to learn. New players for this year can be picked up and gone within an hour. The first video of the technology in action shows how its first adaptation to the digital environment was a test using a maze built in Minecraft. The next step? Clearly, someone was using haptic equipment to enter a real underground mine.
Artha’s English Youtube channel (Opens in a new tab) has more details about the process, breaking down the development of the technology in recent years. It lasts about eight minutes and is a really fascinating watch if you’re intrigued by the whole process.