New device levels the playing field for deaf gamers

This is a first in the video game industry: an audio radar experience that helps deaf and hard of hearing gamers visualize sounds using an LED screen.

“I can turn to where that sound was a lot faster. So you double your senses if you will,” said Tim Murphy, inventor and patent holder of Audio Radar.

The Zeeland, Mich. Native has spent more than three years building Audio Radar in his games garage. The technology transforms the subtle sounds emitted during the game into strips of light on six LED bars that surround a TV or monitor.

It allows gamers to see what they cannot hear by plugging it into their XBox, PlayStation or computer.

“They can now see audio events in games like ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ and ‘Fortnight,’ those headlines that have that really sophisticated 7.1 surround physics, if you will,” said Murphy. “We’re now visualizing these for players who can’t hear them, so now they’re leveling the playing field.”

Murphy has tested the technology on several popular multiplayer shooter games.

“So if you hear footsteps coming behind you, the light bar in the lower right corner of your monitor or TV will start blinking to tell you, ‘Hey, someone is right behind you, take a look, ‘”said Murphy.” Or, if a tank comes up behind you, you’ve got all your lights exploding at the bottom of your screen, and you know,’ Hey, I better turn around, something’s going on. thing.'”

Anyone can use Audio Radar, but it’s revolutionary for deaf community gamers like Dom Bearwood.

“Extremely exciting,” Bearwood said. “It’s just, I can’t even put words on it. I’m speechless at how exciting it is.”

Bearwood started playing when he was little with Super Mario on Nintendo. He says he’s not super talented but loves to play.

“Gambling is a big part of my life,” Bearwood said. “But it really helped me to see different parts of the world as far as different perspectives and things like that. It takes me out of my own life, just out of my own life, but also sometimes takes me out of reality and into me. just lets me relax and have fun. “

He too calls Audio Radar a game changer for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“I never realized that there were so many different sounds in the game, like footsteps, shots or background noises,” he said. “I just never knew they were there. And then when I saw all those lights go on, I was like, ‘Really? Are all of these sounds happening? “Like even when someone falls, when they die, there’s a noise, and someone walks behind you or I would often die because, you know, I didn’t know someone was behind me.”

Murphy spent time as a radar technician in the Navy and always wanted to introduce radar to the gaming world. After testing the concept on a focus group, he knew it would be a success.

“There is definitely a great unmet need in the gaming community that we can fill with Audio Radar,” said Murphy. “There is no other device like this, and we believe it is just a simple yet sophisticated solution for this giant unmet need.”

Murphy said he couldn’t legally reveal whether he had signed a deal with a major gaming company yet.

An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for Audio Radar will be launched on October 15 in hopes of bringing the product to market.

This story was originally posted by Ryan Cummings on the Scripps WXMI station in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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