Digi explores prototype for the visually impaired to experience football

THERE are many things that unite Malaysians, be it our shared love for food or our national pride, but nothing brings the nation together like our love for sports — particularly football.

In the spirit of bringing all Malaysians together to celebrate our 62nd National Day, Digi.com Bhd has introduced Footbraille, the first of its kind solution to help the visually impaired experience the full euphoria of a football match.

The Footbraille prototype and its benefits to this community made its debut in the company’s national day video this year.

Digi chief corporate affairs officer Joachim Rajaram said: “We constantly look for inspiration and new ways that technology can help build meaningful connections.

“We strongly believe that all Malaysians should be given the opportunity to benefit from the power of the Internet and technology. In this instance, we married the passion and patriotism of our nation’s athletes to one of our most iconic sporting moments that happened over 39 years ago — when Malaysia won 2-1 against South Korea in the 1980 Olympics Moscow qualifiers.

“By applying technology innovatively, we are able to be inclusive to connect the visually impaired communities to what matters to them, enabling them to enjoy and pursue their passion for football in an immersive manner.”

He added that it was a challenging, but inspiring journey for his team, especially upon seeing the expressions of wonder and delight on the faces of the Malaysian blind footballers as they felt the match for the first time.

“It affirms our belief that our efforts to ensure no one is left behind as the world moves forward digitally is well worth it,” he said.

Footbraille is a prototype that is set to change the way the visually impaired experience the thrills and spills of a football match as their sighted peers would.

Developed by Digi, it is a touch table which syncs wirelessly to a device with a custom software that inputs the ball’s movement, and then creates a touch-based response allowing users to “feel” the match.

This experience is enhanced by a live match commentary to help users completely immerse themselves in the game.

Multiple Footbraille devices can be simultaneously connected to allow for several users to experience a match at the same time.

In the next phase, Footbraille will be put to the test to capture a live or training football match and transmit the game in real-time.

This solution can be adapted for other types of sporting events and use cases.