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Virtual worlds open up to blind

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by gkd_uk, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. gkd_uk

    gkd_uk Moderator Moderator Webmaster

    Online virtual worlds could soon be accessible to blind people thanks to research by students at IBM in Ireland.

    Some estimates predict that 80% of active internet users will be using a virtual world in four years' time.

    The company said that it is keen to ensure that blind people are not excluded from an environment that sighted people will take for granted.

    The students have designed an audio equivalent of the virtual world using 3D sound to create a sense of space.

    They were working as part of the company's Extreme Blue research initiative which brings groups of students together for 12 weeks to solve problem set by senior researchers.

    The project - called Accessibility In Virtual Worlds - is what the company describes as "a proof of concept" at this stage, but it will be passed on to IBM's Human Ability and Accessibility Centre in Texas for further development.

    For their work the Irish team decided to use the Active Worlds online environment rather than the more popular Second Life (which has almost 9.5m accounts) because it allowed them more flexibility.

    Active Worlds is a collection of user-made virtual worlds that people can visit via a web browser plug-in. Like many other virtual spaces they let people make many of the artefacts, including buildings, found in them.

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