Anyone who regularly follows this blog knows that I am a big fan of travel related technology, and how it affects the lives of f he blind and visually impaired community. But, I love to hear and read about technologies being reimagined for new purposes, especially if those purposes allow members of the visually impaired community to participate in activities that were previously unavailable to them, like sports.
Recently, Yoichi Ochiai, an assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba challenged his students to devise a way for visually impaired participants to play racket sports. The team set out to make one of the most visually demanding games, badminton accessible. They replaced the traditional shuttlecock with a DJI Tello drone and developed a set of rackets (with the strings removed as not to damage the drone) which allow players to “hit” the done to the opponent. The system is still a prototype, and it works with a variety of sensors allowing participants the ability to swing the racket at the drone and change it’s trajectory in predictable ways.
Te teams have successfully integrated the sensors into the handle of the rackets, and players use the sound of the drone as an auditory cue like you would with beeper ball. The drone flies with a cage around it so that players are safe from the spinning propellers and the rackets do not impact the drone when playing. The system shows a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing how the final version of the system is to play a game with. As with anything else, this technology should be leveraged to allow blind community members to participate in other similar sports like tennis.
Here is a link to the original article: https://dronedj.com/2021/09/16/dji-tello-drone-visually-impaired-play-badminton/
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