If a team of visually impaired soccer players were to go head to head against a team of former professional players, who do you think would win? Conventional wisdom points to the ex-pros as the victors, but thanks to the latest in 3D sound and motion tracking technology, the answer might surprise you.
As part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, the Swedish creative media company, Society 46, created a system that forced two teams of soccer players to compete using only their ears in a project called “The Sound of Football.” A small soccer field was rigged with 16 cameras designed to track the motion of the players and the ball. A team of former pros and a team of visually impaired amateurs took the field sporting some specially designed headwear blacking out their vision while connecting them to an audio system.
The cameras tracked the position of each player in real time, which was then relayed to an iPhone in each player’s headgear. The technologists at Society 46 designed a 3D audio system that worked with the iPhone’s gyroscope and compass features, essentially communicating the ball’s location through sound. Several sounds were used to communicate where the ball was in relation to each individual player as well as each goal.
The technology matched the teams up pretty evenly, as the game ended in a 1-1 draw. In the future, the Pepsi Refresh Project and Society 46 would like this technology to be used to create “new aides that enable visually impaired people to ‘see’ with sound.” You can visit the Sound of Football website to contribute your ideas on how this technology can move forward. How do you think this “audible sight” technology can be used?