While many praise the technological advancements that create the best-looking games we've ever seen, the most important and impressive innovations are coming from those dedicated to making gaming more accessible to those with disabilities.
Dorothee Clasen, as part of her Master's thesis in Integrated Design at KISD in Germany, has developed [In]brace, a wearable device that allows for tongue-based interaction.
If this technology is further adopted and developed, it could mark huge steps forward for accessibility in gaming.
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What is [in]brace? How does it work?
The [In]brace prototype developed by Clasen is made of a plastic retainer that connects to a Wi-Fi transmitter placed behind the user's ear. To create an input, the user can use their tongue to push a spherical magnetic attached to the retainer back and forth.
As part of her final prototype testing, Clasen developed a game called 'Tong' - a version of Pong that allows players to control their paddle with tongue movements rather than with their hands.
Clasen specified that [In]brace's future use could include physical therapy, where the use of the device could "playfully motivate patients to retrain their tongue movements."
She also suggested it could be used for "Special work tasks" where an individual's hands and feet are otherwise occupied.
However, one of the most significant potential uses of [In]brace, at least in gaming, is its use as an input device for those with physical disabilities.
How [In]brace will benefit accessibility in gaming
For many years, gaming was very much off limits to those with severe physical disabilities or limited motor function.
In the past decade, huge accessibility advancements have been made by hardware developers. Xbox, for example, who developed the Xbox Adaptive Controller to make their console and games accessible to more disabled gamers.
Eye-tracking has also become a huge part of making games more accessible, with Eye Gaze Games and Tobii allowing those with the most limited motor function enjoy games previously only played by able-bodied gamers.
With [In]brace, there is potential for gaming to be even more accessible to those who cannot use eye-trackers or specialist controllers, for example. What starts off as being used to play a game of Pong could soon be integrated into new titles or pieces of software.
You can watch Dorothee Clasen's full [In]brace presentation here: