Air Hockey Robot: Accessibility Possibilities

Robot Air Hockey - with ideas for one-switch air-hockey and eye-gaze air hockey.

The Air Hockey Robot Project above is currently used to create a robot opponent to a single human player. JJ Robots are selling parts of the kit to build your own.

An exciting potential upgrade to this project would be to allow for the robot to be controlled by an otherwise disabled human. You could put the puck under the control of a head-tracker, analogue joystick and other controllers quite easily I'd guess. With an added assist algorithm eye-gaze and one single button would be possible. How? By implementing the system first seen in the mobile phone game Jamdat Air Hockey.

This one-button mobile phone game designed by Steve Wetherill can be played by a person who can hold and release a single button. The rough video below gives a glimpse of this below through a Java phone emulator and the Enter key alone.

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KORG WaveDrum MIni

KORG WaveDrum Mini

The Korg WaveDrum Mini is a drum machine that allows you to use any surface that will transmit a vibration to the little clip. That means you could clip it to a wheelchair tray, a door, a plastic bottle of drink and many other things.

Reminds me a bit of Let's Tap on the Wii. Actually having those two hooked up together might be hugely entertaining cause and effect (splatter ink paint on screen, and sounds from the Korg).

Found via: Applaud Interactive.

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D.I.Y. Accessible Environmental Control and R/C Toys

The video above shows some early testing of a USBox which allows you to control four (or more) relays using key-board shortcuts. In this clip, I've set a single switch to alternate between latching SPIN on/off then latching GO on/off on a switch adapted Hitari Tumbler car. It's a little bit laggy, but it works.

The USBox is from Canada's Compusult, and links to Japan's (I believe). I'm hoping they'll add a momentary mode, to really broaden out the use of this device.

As is, this system (I'm using it with a switch adapted joypad and JoyToKey) offers a way to bring highly affordable D.I.Y. environmental control to a wide range of users. It could also open up a lot of otherwise inaccessible toys and radio controlled devices. Fingers crossed!

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File System Aging – 1. Defragmentation

Thoughtful, quiet piece on video gaming memories from Rab Florance over at Rock Paper Shotgun.


GEEK 2015: SpecialEffect

GEEK 2015 line-up for SpecialEffect stand: A Light in Chorus with twin arcade sticks, Shenmue, Dragon's Lair for one-switch, and TV-POWWW played using a telephone.

GEEK 2015 line-up for SpecialEffect stand: A Light in Chorus with twin arcade sticks and Shenmue.

GEEK 2015 line-up for SpecialEffect stand: Dragon's Lair for one-switch, and TV-POWWW played using a telephone.

Shaz Hossain, developing head-tracker accessible set-up for Street Fighter 2

Ridge Racer to be played with a head-tracker. Might make it to the show.

Above is a mix of games Shaz Hossain and I will likely set-up for our SpecialEffect stint at Geek 2015 in Margate this Sunday. GEEK is a brilliant family friendly event, with "Meet, Make, Play" as the tag. In the pot will be:

  • 2015: A Light in Chorus: early access to this unreleased but staggeringly beautiful world. Twin stick access with optional switches.
  • 2000: Shenmue: a day in the snow in 1980s Dobuita with plenty of money to spend in the You Arcade on Darts, 30 year old classics Space Harrier and Hang On. Colour-coded subtitles.
  • 1990s: Arcade Classics: Street Fighter 2 and maybe some others such as Ridge Racer adapted for use with a head-tracker.
  • 1983: Dragon's Lair: The ever stunning Dragon's Lair adapted by William Pilgrim for one-switch access.
  • 1978: TV POWWW!: The earliest days of on-line speech controlled one-switch gaming! Pushing my luck with this working in a noisy environment with the 1970s telephone and TV, so it may get modified into something slightly different.

[UPDATE 01-03-2015] Geek 2015 was a joy. We had a steady flow of people from toddlers to people who were 60+. Such a lovely family atmosphere there, and great to chat about what we do at SpecialEffect, to share some fine games, and to swap ideas with Shaz. Here's hoping Geek 2016 will be in Dreamland, if opened in time.


Space Invader

Space Invader from the ever wonderful Shoot Your Mouth Off Films.


Push Button for more Accessibility News

Quick digest of three bits of accessibility news that passed my way, numbered in Ukrainian for no particular reason...

1 (Odin): Blink access for free utility in development. 2 (Dva): Microsoft announce streaming facility to make Xbox One games accessible in Windows 10 and possibly thus accessible with a huge array of PC controls. 3 (Tri): Tobii announce tie-up with Ubisoft to make eye-tracking part of Assassin's Creed.

Programmer Adam Barnett sent me a link to his very promising work in progress Blink System, which you can see below. He hopes to give it away free when finished, and for it to be used with a standard web-cam. There's a way to go in development, and he'd much appreciate any feedback from people with an interest. Feel free to get in touch via OneSwitch or more directly via his YouTube channel.

Xbox One on Windows 10 laptops, tablets and beyond.

Microsoft recently announced that it will be possible to stream Xbox One games directly onto Windows 10 platforms. This could open the way for a wide range of PC accessible peripherals to interface with the Xbox One with minimal complexity in setting up. We'll see, but it's looking very hopeful.

Tobii are pushing their Windows PC EyeX Dev Kit at 99 Euros, and with it are highlighting this: "Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Rogue will feature eye tracking integration. This makes it the world’s first AAA game to [deliberately] incorporate eye tracking as a component of gameplay."

I'm not sure that this makes the game more accessible in anyway, it may make the game less accessible for people unable to use the traditional mouse and keyboard controls as it adds a further layer of complexity to the controls.... but if it leads to more eye-gaze technology in gaming technology, it could certainly bring the price down. And that would be good. Wonder if it will come with a mouse emulator built-in. N.B. The consumer version may be more expensive.

Tobii Eye-Gaze technology in gaming.

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GEEK 2015 - Building a Manifesto for Game Accessibility - Game Blast 2015

24 Game Blast: Games Changing Lives. Game Developer Conference 2015 Game Accessibility - and Geek 2015 Margate.

Unu: GameBlast 2015 will be running 24 hour gaming events all over the world between the 21st and 23rd of February to raise money for gaming charity SpecialEffect. Many people have signed up already to support this, including game accessibility guru Colin McDonnell and friends at the excellent William Merritt centre.

Doi: Legends of the game accessibility movement (all with links to the IGDA GASIG) will be presenting at the March Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, USA: Building a Manifesto for Game Accessibility. Tara Voelker will also be running the No More Excuses, Your Guide to Accessible Game Design event. If you're here, and then you're there, you should definitely get signed up.

Trei: Meet, Make, Play at Geek 2015 in Margate, UK. I'm planning to be there on Sunday representing SpecialEffect with Shaz Hossain. We're just finalising the games we'll be show-casing, but there'll be some unique stuff for sure. A taste of what on-line action gaming was like in 1978 with 1970s phone and much more modern stuff. Geek is such a brilliant family friendly event. If you like video games, quirky, retro and modern, it's a slice of heaven. Full Geek 2015 details here.

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Simulism: Way Out

Via: RNT Blog


Push Button For Accessibility News

There's been a lot of game accessibility news in January, here's a little of it....

Global Game Jam 2015: "Stephen Hawking can play this" diversifier. A lot of the games didn't quite get the one-switch/one-button concept, but I spotted some very likeable games in the mix. More to come on this.

Ways to further game accessibility in the industry: Game Accessibility super-advocate Ian Hamilton posts a fine reasoning for applying pressure for greater access at many angles of attack.

XCM Cross Fire Converter 3.0: Maybe the most affordable way to get some older accessible wired controllers working on Playstation 4 (including Xbox 360 joypads).  I'll post when I get a chance to test with daisy-chained PS2 controllers with an additional adapter. Costs $59 (£39.71 on eBay right now).


EyeTeq from Spectral Edge: Very promising work in converting images live for colour-blind users. They are looking to license this technology for set-top boxes, and the like. I get the impression it may need refining, and the Android app didn't work properly for me first time, but imagine this working well and being part of computer operating systems. Mighty fine idea. More info at the BBC.

Tobii Dynavox PCEye Explore eye gaze camera: "Only £590" makes me raise an eye-brow, but this looks like nice eye tracking kit. I can't see this type of technology being this expensive for much longer. Hope not anyway. £5 for a cheap standard mouse. £10 for a cheap web-cam. The gap seems unfair.

Roland V-40HD Multi Format Video Mixer: Through a friend of a friend then an expert at Roland I discovered the V-40HD. This looks like it will seamlessly mix a PC image on top of a game console image. This would be amazing for linking PC eye-tracking, head-tracking and heads up displays directly into Xbox and Playstation games using a Titan One link up (and possibly the XIM4 in the future). Downside is its very expensive. Would be so good to not need this kind of technology. See the V-40HD user-manual, page 35 on Compositing Using DSK (down stream keying).

I discovered some fascinating coverage of the late 1980s Nintendo Hands-Free Controller for the NES via the RNT blog. Just for information, this device does not seem to work on the UK NES, at least not the one I tried. It does work on a recent hardware emulated NES I found.

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