Just in time for Merdeka, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Digi) has married technology and connectivity to bring the experience of enjoying a football match to our visually impaired peers by developing a prototype called Footbraille.
Unveiled to the public just yesterday, Footbraille is a touch table that syncs wirelessly to a device that employs custom software to input the ball’s movement, which then creates a touch-based response that allows users to “feel” the match being played out.
The touch table itself is designed after a football pitch with different parts of the field’s “grass” made up of varying materials. Users simply have to place their hands on the device to follow the game as the touch-based response tracks the football’s movements in real-time. To further complete the experience, a live match commentary will be given for immersion purposes.
Bringing Inclusivity To The Table
In Digi’s National Day video, they had three players from the national blind football team test out Footbraille by “watching” Malaysia’s famous football win against South Korea to qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympics as their coach Sunny Shalesh provided live commentary.
Digi Chief Corporate Affairs officer Joachim Rajaram said, “It was a challenging but inspiring journey for us, especially when we saw the expressions of wonder and delight on the faces of the Malaysian blind footballers as they felt the match for the first time. It affirms our belief that our efforts to ensure no one is left behind as the world moves forward digitally is well worth it.”
“By applying technology innovatively, we are able to be inclusive to connect the visually impaired communities to what matters to them, enabling them to enjoy and pursue their passion for football in an immersive manner,” he said.
According to Digi Digital IT head Anwar Ishak, it took them 4 months and many versions before settling on this prototype. “We asked our visually impaired football fans for their input and used their feedback to better the equipment.”
Multiple Footbraille devices can be connected simultaneously to allow several users to experience a match at the same time. Footbraille’s next phase of testing will involve it being used to capture a live or training football match, and emulating the gameplay on its touch table surface in real-time.
Anwar hopes that in the near future, Malaysian football stadiums can be equipped with cameras that track the ball in play so that visually impaired fans can spectate along with their sighted peers.
To further develop the prototype, the telco is currently working with several organisations like the Football Association of Selangor (FAS) and the Malaysian blind football team to make Footbraille more viable, and are looking into potentially using it for training purposes.
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Featured Image Credit: Digi