A new virtual reality game allows users to experience what it’s like to play football with a variety of visual impairments, in a bid to create understanding for blind sport athletes.
Ophthalmologist Dr Sabina Andersson Geimer joined forces with car-maker Toyota’s Swedish division and the Swedish Paralympic Committee to add special effects such as blurring and distortion to the game. to realistically portray what people with conditions such as cataract or glaucoma might experience.
The aim of the VR-experience is to spread knowledge about visual impairments, and spark engagement for para sports, Toyota said in its media release. “In the game, which is the first of its kind, the player aims and shoots at a real football goal, while the experience of having visual impairment is simulated through a virtual reality experience.”
“I’ve worked with blind sports a long time, and I’m still impressed by the accomplishments of these athletes. It’s not easy for people with normal sight to visualise these conditions, but the result is far more realistic than I thought was possible. As far as I know, no one’s done a simulation of these impairments on this level before,” says Dr Geimer, who is a consultant at the Skåne University Hospital Eye Clinic and national qualifier of blind sports in Sweden.
“I think it’s a well thought-through and smart way of showing an impairment, where you not only point to the impairment itself, but also show the possibilities that come with having a visual impairment. You don’t have to quit football, and you can absolutely be a part of - and achieve - amazing things, and experience the whole world,” says captain of the Swedish National Goalball Team, Fatmir Seremeti.
Toyota has significant virtual reality expertise and is a global sponsor of the Paralympics and sponsor of the Swedish Paralympic Committee, where a part of the Swedish sponsorship is to raise awareness for para sports to increase the number of active athletes. The public will be able to try the game out at several para-sport events during the year, it says.
A video about the project can be seen on YouTube.