In a strong move towards inclusivity, Sony’s Creative Center, in partnership with MUSVI Corporation, introduces “XR Catch,” a game of virtual catch designed for everyone, including individuals with visual impairments. This game leverages extended reality (XR) technology and sound to offer a seamless play experience.
Unveiled to the public in July 2023 at Sony Park Mini in Ginza, the initiative has gained significant attention and is a landmark in Sony’s Inclusive Design Initiative, including at CEATEC 2023.
Developed by a visually impaired person keen on playing catch with his son without any hassle, the XR Catch Ball game transforms the traditional game of catch into a virtual experience. By using a smartphone, players can engage in throwing and catching a virtual ball projected on their screen.
To assist in the gameplay, the action is accompanied by a series of sounds that guide the player in determining the right moment to catch the ball. You can learn more about the complete origins of this project in this interview (scroll down the page).
Utilizing MUSVI Corporation’s telepresence system “Mado,” XR Catch enables players to enjoy a game of catch remotely. During CEATEC, visitors to Sony Store Ginza could engage in a game with folks present at the IT convention. The beauty of this system is that it allows players to connect regardless of their vision or physical strength, breaking down traditional barriers to play.
The game works with players holding a smartphone and face each other, either physically or through the telepresence system. A virtual ball appears on the smartphone, and players throw the ball by shaking their hand, pressing a button to release it.
Four speakers are placed between the players, and they emit sounds to signify the ball’s movement. The receiving player, guided by these sounds, catches the ball by pressing a button on their smartphone at the precise moment. The game incorporates varying ball speeds and levels of sound to keep the gameplay engaging.
Since its public introduction, XR Catch has garnered positive responses. Trial sessions have already been held at elderly care facilities and for children with visual impairments, indicating the game’s versatility and wide-reaching impact. Teruhiro Nakagawa, the PLAYERS Foundation lead user with visual impairments, and three Sony designers have expressed optimism regarding the project’s future expansion.
This innovation marks an notable step in making recreational activities more inclusive. By integrating technology, sound, and a focus on accessible design, it exemplifies how innovation can bring communities closer, regardless of physical constraints or sensory impairments. The project showcases Sony’s commitment to inclusivity and is a testament to co-creation’s power.