Researchers at the Massachussetts Department of Ophthalmology Eye and Ear Surgery together with the Harvard Medical School are releasing details of a brand new gaming environment.
This " game" is aimed to help the blind to improve navigation skills and thereby develop a cognitive spatial map of areas, buildings and locations that are unfamiliar to them.
Ordinarily, auditory and tactile methods are used for navigation.
A synthesized, virtual world is created that mimics real life navigation in which participants must try to find treasure and remove it from the virtual buildings without being caught by the roaming monsters that attempt to steal the bounty. A keyboard and headpiece for auditory cues are used.
Software called Audio Based Environment Simulator uses the blue print layout of the actual sight centre for the Blind in Massachussetts, and allows patients to familiarise themselves with the whole building, more so than if they followed simple directions.
The researchers hope that the technology used for this simulation will be of use to the blind community and eventually outreaching also to patients that have suffered head trauma or cognitive defects or other impairments of vision.
While it is noted that sighted people pay mis-understand the concept of a video game for the blind, the team advocate that by breaking down layouts of the game and strategy and using auditory prompts, they can help show how we quantify performance within the game to real life and the physical world for a blind person.