Thanks to Pepsi’s awesome Refresh Project, technology originally developed for the last World Cup has been utilized to allow Blind Soccer (Football) Players to “see” the field of play utilizing directional sound.
Created by Tracab, this system was comprised of sixteen cameras covering the entire field — including two innovative stereovision cameras placed at mid-field, and used the different colors of the team jersey’s to distinguish the home team from the away team, and to identify the referees. This set up, which was deployed during the last World Cup, essentially tracked the position of each player in real-time. This information was then funneled into an iPhone attached to each player’s headset, and converted into a surround-sound landscape, using an app created by a company called Society 46.
Unique sounds were assigned to both the ball and the goal; turning your head in the direction of one goal would produce one sound, facing the ball would result in another. This allowed each player to get a better idea of his surroundings and of his spatial positioning, though, as many of the pros found out, it wasn’t quite as easy as it looked. The designers of this system are now looking to use their technology in other, non-sports arenas, in the hopes of helping the blind and visually impaired “see” more of the world around them.