Playing video games is, by definition, a primarily visual experience, largely leaving out those who are blind. This, doesn’t rule out computer interactions (or gaming) in general, and researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany have come up with a novel spatial interface dubbed the DualPanto.
This device uses a pair of pantographs — linkage systems controlled by a pair of motors — to represent a virtual world. One “it” pantograph represents an object in this world, such as a soccer ball, while a second “me” pantograph represents the person’s avatar. Each pantograph motor has a corresponding encoder to sense position, and at the end each linkage system, another motor and encoder are implemented for the the player to sense and change direction. Importantly, the two pantograhs are stacked on top of each other in such a way that the relationship between the handles in a 2D plane represents the spatial alignment of the game world.
DualPanto is controlled by an Arduino Due board and an L298N motor driver. The Due is in turn linked via USB to a Macbook Pro running example games designed for this environment. Tests with this prototype device have been overwhelmingly positive, so perhaps we’ll see this type of interface become more common in the future. The project’s full research paper is available here, and a quick demo is shown below.