Digi Merdeka Campaign 2019
A collaboration with Digi, Mojo Films & Naga DDB Tribal Malaysia to create a first of it’s kind system comprising custom designed physical & digital products, developed specifically for football fans of the visually impaired community in conjunction with Malaysia’s Independence Day 2019.
In the spirit of inclusiveness, Footbraille enables the visually impaired to experience the thrill of a football match through haptic technology. The system creates precise tactile feedback to communicate football location and trajectory, which is accurately synchronized with live commentary from a coach. Footbraille is scalable, allowing for multiple users to experience a match at the same time. Future versions of the system will allow users to experience live matches in real time by incorporating advanced computer vision technology.
It is a common practice among visually impaired football fans to enjoy a match through sensory aid. With assistance from a friend or coach with normal sight, matches are usually traced by hand onto the visually impaired’s palm along with a live commentary. This is as good as it can get to experiencing an actual match. Utilizing the same concept of tactile feedback and live commentary, our team adapted this into a mechanical system that translates ball movement, input via a wirelessly connected touch device into precise X&Y coordinates on a custom made fabric tactile football field.
As the device is catered to the visually impaired, multiple rounds of design iterations were necessary in developing the tactile football field, a simple, yet essential component of the system. Each prototype went through multiple testings by Malaysia’s National Blind Football Athletes, who helped provide in depth insights into what worked and what didn’t. The initial prototypes were lacking in terms of details such as field zones, how goals were scored and other indicators that were essential to enhancing the overall tactile feedback experience. These details were then incorporated through a curation of different fabric materials that represented different zones. Multiple refinements in the custom built software were also necessary throughout the development phase. These design iterations increased the engagement of the match with the users, providing a precise and clear perspective of what was happening during a match.
Multi-Disciplinary Design & Engineering
Footbraille focuses on scalability with support for multiple concurrent units, placing a high importance on planning with consideration to production and assembly. Bringing together components from multiple sources, from the tactile field, linear movement mechanical system and electronics to the custom designed CNC-machined ABS enclosure, it is all about the design of multiple sub-systems and precisely integrating them. This of course requires seamless collaboration within our team of multi-disciplinary designers and engineers.
The core of the device is the software that captures precise ball location and trajectory through manual input ( via a custom app running on a touch-enabled PC ). The team also experimented with real-time ball motion capture using multiple cameras mounted throughout a futsal court. This technology is still under development but will enable future versions of Footbraille to be used for live matches.
A significant amount of time was spent on understanding the linear movement technology and application, and command codes that would translate the stylus movement on the tablet (input) into the ball movement (output). Calibration and synchronization were also the key factors in ensuring the the ball placement is accurate on the tactile field.
Another challenge faced was translating ball techniques eg. dribble vs. long pass on to the device. This was solved through different types of stylus movement on the tablet. A tap from point A to point B represents a smooth long pass, meanwhile a drag motion represents the dribbling of the ball.