At the Mobile World Congress 2023, Orange joined forces with the startup Touch2See to present the innovation that is revolutionizing how spectators with visual disabilities can watch sports events: a tablet that uses touch to follow the progress of a match.
Even today, 87% of people with visual disabilities feel that sporting events are not easily accessible to them. Nevertheless, there are without a doubt many blind or visually impaired soccer or rugby fans who would love to experience a match with the same intensity as the thousands of other fans sitting in the bleachers. This is now possible with Touch2See, a touch-sensitive tablet invented by young entrepreneurs from Toulouse with support from Orange, CEA and Ericsson.
This is a concrete demonstration of the inclusive power of digital technology
A Highly Immersive Touch Experience
At the Mobile World Congress 2023, the demonstration was awe-inspiring. A miniature version of a soccer field was reproduced using a tablet fitted with a magnetic disk. It was connected to a television broadcasting the replay of a game. Thanks to the 5G network and artificial intelligence, the solution transmits sports data captured by cameras in the stadium in real time, analyzes it and converts it into a sensory and immersive experience, all without human intervention, making the solution easily scalable. The movements of players with the ball, passes and shots are all traced in real time on the tablet through vibrations and that the user detects by touch. This spatial understanding of the game is enriched by a digitized and interactive audio description that communicates general information such as the name of the player with the ball, the playing time, score and any fouls, making the experience even more immersive.
The Power of 5G and Edge Computing
The solution was originally designed to be used within the stadium itself (although using it at home in front of a television was already being considered). Hence the importance of Orange’s expertise and the 5G network, which, thanks to edge computing technology, allows data to be processed exactly where it is produced. The goal is to optimize connectivity and latency, currently estimated to be under 150 milliseconds, which is equivalent to real-time processing. This will ensure users are totally immersed in the game.
An Opportunity for Rollout at the Paris Olympics
The startup Touch2See is the winner of the Orange Eventech challenge for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. It won €10,000 to create a proof of concept and test it in real situations with visually impaired users at the Orange Vélodrome 5G Lab in Marseille. More importantly, it was given the opportunity to see its solution officially rolled out in stadiums by the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. “Touch2See is aligned with our commitments as a responsible carrier,” says Patrick Chataignier, Partnerships Manager for Marketing and Innovation for the 2024 Olympics at Orange. This is a concrete demonstration of the inclusive power of digital technology, something we strongly believe in.” This is why, as well as this solution being officially available at the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we are also thinking about how to make it more widely available to the visually impaired at other sporting events.”
Working Toward Increasingly Accessible Digital Services
Although Touch2See is aimed at blind and visually impaired people, Orange teams are also working on innovations for people with other sensory or motor disabilities. In terms of hearing, for example, they are looking to offer a sound service via smartphones that will be personalized according to the user’s hearing abilities. This service could have many applications, such as in concerts, movie theaters and stadiums.
For Marie-Claire Thoirey, in charge of disability product marketing in Orange’s Societal Engagement and Accessibility Division, “Committing to digital equality also means taking all forms of disability into account when designing our products and services. For TV, mobile and the web, there is still a lot of work to be done to build the inclusive society we all dream of! For example, collaborating effectively with the many stakeholders involved, such as content producers, publishers and distributors.”
A system that simulates touch and allows information to be transmitted. For example, this type of device is used in “force feedback” joysticks.