Across the world there are as many as 285 million people who are visually impaired. Peoples' physical activity level generally experiences a large drop after graduating college but this occurs earlier, after high school graduation, for the visually impaired, who are generally not as fit as their sighted peers. This phenomenon and barriers to activity lead to increased health risks for the visually impaired: low energy; low activity; obesity; mental health; motor skill development delays.
I am working to create a concept fitness product for visually impaired adolescents that increases their independence and enables more active and healthy lifestyles.
The visually impaired encounter a drop in physical activity earlier than their sighted peers. As vision decreases the amount of energy needed each day increases due to less efficient movement.
Decreased fitness levels and barriers to activity create increased health risks for the visually impaired throughout their lives and can cause developmental delays.
WHat are the underlying causes?
Of abilities from peers, adults, and themselves
Of failure, injury, bullying, and embarrassment
Lack of Access
To equipment and the chance to participate
No tactile interaction, only visual UI on gym equipment
Camp Abilities - Brockport
Throughout this project I have been fortunate to work with experts from Camp Abilities Brockport, a sports camp for visually impaired children, and had the opportunity to attend camp with them during the research phase. The camp focuses on teaching them how to play sports, building connections between campers, and inspiring them to realize just how much they can accomplish.
Missing experience not ability
Solutions should work for everyone
Need continuous access to activity
Opportunity 1: Fostering Independence
The greater the level of visual impairment someone has the more they need to rely on the help of others during certain physical activities. This opportunity explores tech enabled sports equipment to give them more independence on the field.
Adaptive sport balls are modified with bells and sound to help the visually impaired track them while in motion, however this is limited to basketball and softball leaving other sports to rely on hacks. These concepts explore ways to help users track their ball, regardless of the sport, so that they have continuous access to play.
Opportunity 2: Continuous Play
opportunity 3: Accessible UI + UX
In a market saturated with fitness trackers and smart watches that heavily use visual interfaces there is the opportunity for a fitness tracker that relies predominantly on haptic tactile and auditory feedback.
To refine the form of the wearable I moved back and forth between sketching, cad, and 3D printed models. This allowed me to gain feedback from users during development and make adjustments. The final form of the wearable has a softened triangular profile that evokes comfort through its similarity to healthcare products, while maintaining a technical consumer product feeling.
The final product is a system that includes; a neck wearable, a camera sensor, and a magnetic camera mount with a rubberized strap to attach the camera to various sporting equipment. The wearable and the camera work together to track the user’s position on the field of play and provide real time feedback about their position, allowing them to work independently with Proximity to be active in their favorite sports.