New Technology Action Audio Describes Sports To Blind Audience

a still from a match between Roger Federer and Marin Čilić. The actions being performed are labeled, like Čilić's forehand, Federer's backhand, and the ball trajectory.

A new technology called Action Audio took a giant leap recently to make a sport as enthralling, fast paced, dramatic and visual as Tennis a lot more accessible and enjoyable for people with visual impairment

Action Audio is a new ball tracking technology that tracks the ball’s position and converts it into 3D audio in real time. What does that mean? Many important aspects of a sport like tennis – position of the ball, how close it is to the line, ball speed, trajectory, and shot type (backhand or forehand) are tracked by this technology and presented in different sounds so a blind person can follow along without assistance from another person.

So what are all the sounds that Audio Action presents to blind sports enthusiasts? Below are some samples that you can try. (headphones recommended)

Test clip
A test clip to test left and right speakers.
Ball Proximity
Closer the ball is to the perimeter, the more blips you hear.
Ball Movement
Hit and bounce of the ball.
Shot Type
High pitch sound for forehand and low pitch for backhand.

Now that we know what to expect from Action Audio, how does it sound in a real match? The clip below shows Action Audio in action during a match between Marin Čilić and Roger Federer in a 2018 match.

Four factors influenced the genesis of this technology.

Social consideration: Watching sports is a global phenomenon that enables many people to bond over shared interests. Action Audio is designed so that blind people could easily participate in these social events.

Existing Sound Languages: The global blind community is used to certain sounds in their respective sports and Action Audio has brought that consistency into tennis.

Accentuated Tension Points: Sports events come with a lot of tension and drama, especially when there is a nail biting finish. Action Audio is designed to present that same level of excitement, uncertainty, and pressure in the form of audio!

Selective Auditory Attention: Audio Action filters out unnecessary sound so the listener could focus on the sporting action.

Action Audio was used for the first time at the 2022 Australian Open. People could just go to the Australian Open website and start listening to the matches.

What kind of impact can a technology like this have on blind sports lovers? Find out for yourself in the short movie below.

What other sports or areas could use this technology? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Independent, Action Audio

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