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RAD tech makes racing games blind-accessible

RAD tech makes racing games blind-accessible
A blindfolded test subject tries out the RAD
A blindfolded test subject tries out the RAD
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A blindfolded test subject tries out the RAD
A blindfolded test subject tries out the RAD

Although you may not realize it, there are special car-racing video games that blind people can play. Brian A. Smith, however, thinks they leave something to be desired. That's why he created the RAD, an audio-based interface that he claims can be integrated into almost any existing racing game.

"The RAD [racing auditory display] is the first system to make it possible for people who are blind to play a 'real' 3D racing game – with full 3D graphics, realistic vehicle physics, complex racetracks, and a standard PlayStation 4 controller," says Smith, a Computer Science PhD candidate at Columbia University. "It's not a dumbed-down version of a racing game tailored specifically to people who are blind."

Additionally, unlike some of those games that are designed for the blind, the RAD reportedly doesn't overwhelm players by supplying them with too much information, nor does it take away from the fun of playing by simply providing them with instructions to follow.

Instead, it incorporates just two auditory guidance systems, which the player hears through a standard set of headphones. One, a "sound slider," is a tone that indicates the car's speed and trajectory. The other uses directional sounds to alert players to upcoming turns on the race track.

"The RAD's sound slider and turn indicator system work together to help players know the car's current speed; align the car with the track's heading; learn the track's layout; profile the direction, sharpness, timing, and length of upcoming turns; cut corners; choose an early or late apex; position the car for optimal turning paths; and know when to brake to complete a turn," says Smith.

When he got 15 volunteers to try out the system (as applied to a prototype racing game that he created), they preferred its interface to that of the popular blind-accessible racing game Mach 1. Smith is now planning on developing the RAD further to let players know of additional game elements such as rival vehicles, and also hopes to adapt the technology to other types of video games.

There's more information in the following video.

Source: Columbia University

Racing Audio Display - for Blind Gamers

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