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The Indian Express - How three Mumbai teenagers designed a game for the visually-challenged

 

Touch and go: The team behind Vision Beyond.

Whenever Yashovardhan Kothari, Dhruv Jhaveri and Dev Kapashi hung out together or went on trips, they realised that not all board games were fun for Jhaveri’s younger brother Moksha, 13, who is visually challenged. It prompted the three teenaged friends to design one for Moksha and those like him.

“We didn’t find many games for the visually impaired in the market and those that were there were expensive and had to be imported from the US. So we started brainstorming and asked Moksha various questions on what he was looking for so that we could fill the void in the market,” says Kothari, 17, a Class XII student of Mumbai’s BD Somani International School.

Vision Beyond, the game the trio built, is a table-size electronically-run one that took them nearly two years to put together. A quiz game based on the popular show Kaun Banega Crorepati, the trio used 3D printing, coding language Python, and Raspberry Pi, the single-board computer, to build it. Each player has four chips, marked A, B, C, and D in Braille. The player chooses an option and places the chip in the centre of the board, which has an RFID scanner that tells if the answer is correct or not. “We have ensured that the game is portable and limited the use of buttons,” says Kothari.

 

In the process of developing the game, the three friends held discussions with visually-impaired children to learn about their expectations from a game. “Sketching, learning how to code, creating 3D modules, importing voice were all challenging,” says Kothari.

The trio was taking the game to different people to get it tested and receive feedback but the COVID-19 lockdown threw a spanner in their work. They are in talks with the National Blind Association to initiate a fundraiser to help take the game to their target audience.

 

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The Hitvada - ‘Smart’ gaming for the differently-abled

three besties_1 &nbs
 Vision Beyond creators Yashovardhan Kothari, Dev Kapashi and Dhruv Jhaveri.
 
 
By Farina Salim Quraishi :
 
Giving ‘Make In India’ a young twist, three talented city lads have come up with a gaming device for the visually impaired. All of 17 and wise beyond their years, the three besties, Yashovardhan Kothari, Dev Kapashi and Dhruv Jhaveri, have conceptualised and designed a portable and interactive gaming device, Vision Beyond. Determined to make fun and games available to even the specially-abled, the trio powered on by their love for gaming worked hard for two years to get the device up and running. Talking about the idea behind Vision Beyond, Yashovardhan says they always missed having their friend, Moksha Jhaveri -- Dhruv’s brother, who is visually impaired during playtime, as he couldn’t play some games with them.
 
Fascinated by the world of games and coding from an early age, the thoughtful trio decided to take things in their own hands. “Gaming increases one’s interaction with the society and makes them feel connected. We were disappointed by the lack of gaming options available for the visually impaired in India. Until recently, only a handful of portable games were available, which were steeply priced. Most were too bulky and large to own at an individual level. We have always wanted to build a game of our own, one which can be played even by the visually challenged. So, we came up with Vision Beyond which is simple, portable and user-friendly,” says the very articulate Yashovardhan about the wonderful initiative. Explaining the device’s technical aspects, Dev Kapsashi says Vision Beyond is an audio interactive game, on the lines of Kaun Banega Crorepati, but is tailor-made for the specially-abled. “We all know Python, a coding language, that gave us strength to go ahead with our dream.
 
Coming up with an idea is easy, but executing it is another matter. We discovered it the hard way! We played a lot of games to zero in on one, sought out help from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, which has a dedicated department for the visually impaired and Curiosity Gym for the hardware. We learned a lot more about coding, gaming and electronics, all the while juggling our class XII board exams. Clearing one road road block at a time, we successfully designed Vision Beyond, using raspberry pie -- a specialised OS -- and CAT modelling software for the 3D model of the device,” states Dev, who swears by Google Tutorials. Talking about the device, Dhruv says, Vision Beyond is for both sighted and the visually impaired. “It’s a very compact tablet-sized device, just about 25 cms. Its quiz-based format, much like KBC, is ideal for all. It comes with 4 chips, one each for the four options in the question. All one needs to do is scan the chip they think is correct and voila! the game begins.
 
The simple gameplay ensurea that players are able to play the game on their own. After every level, it becomes harder and one has to score maximum points to win. It can double up as a multi-player or a single player game. Moreover, one doesn’t need to know Braille to play it. We have an extensive question bank to ensure variety and engagement with Vision Beyond,” Dhruv says.
 
“We have applied for a patent of the game and it’s in process. Though the initial cost of the device is around Rs 3000 to Rs 4000, the price will go down when it goes into mass production. But more importantly, we want this game to reach as many kids as possible. There are also plans of donating it to organisations associated with the visually impaired. We have started a fundraiser on our page -- http://visionbeyond.org.in -- to this effect.
 
We have also tied up with National Association for the Blind (NAB India)for it. About 70% of the donations will go to them, rest will go towards making Vision Beyond available to all. We are working hard to ensure that Vision Beyond, made in India and made with love, reaches all our visually challenged friends,” says Yashovardhan on a parting note. 
 

Muthucharam - Article

 

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Teenagers with a vision design quiz game for visually-challenged kids - Onmanorama

If you were told of three 15-year-olds – one of them with a visually-challenged sibling – designing and building a multi-sensory game for those with visual impairments, you might think it’s all too ‘filmy.’

For Yashovardhan Kothari, Dev Kapashi and Dhruv Jhaveri from Mumbai in Maharashtra, it was more of an emotional need than the desire to do anything extraordinary.

Moksha, Dhruv’s visually-challenged younger brother, had to stay out of all their board games. “We so wanted to bring the joy and excitement of playing board games to Moksha,” say the trio. ‘Vision Beyond,’ a tactile and sensory board-game that caters to children with visual impairments, has earned a thumbs-up from Moksha and is geared to go out into the market.

It all started about a year ago when, during a casual meet up, the friends were disturbed by the fact that they had no choice but to leave Moksha out when they sat down for a round of board games. Moksha’s family had tried buying some games for him and had done quite a bit of research into what’s available in the market. By then, it was evident that most of these Braille-supported and tactile games were not available in India and were expensive. They were not easy to use and Moksha didn’t seem particularly keen on playing them.

“What if we could build a game for him?” – that was a moment of brainwave that set them off on a passionate journey. Yashovardhan says, “We wanted to build a game that could be easily played by the visually challenged. There was no point in giving a very complex game that they would need assistance with. The main thing is that it had to be interesting.”

Vision Beyond - Lokmat Times

Vision Beyond : १७ वर्षांच्या ३ दोस्तांनी बनवला अंधांसाठी क्विझ गेम

यशोवर्धन कोठारी, देव कपाशी आणि ध्रुव जव्हेरी हे तिघे घट्ट मित्र. ध्रुवचा भाऊ अंध आहे, त्याला आपल्यासारखा गेम खेळण्याचा आनंद द्यावा, या विचारातून सुरुवात झाली; आणि या तिघांनी बनवला एक गेम! - त्या प्रवासाची ही भन्नाट गोष्ट

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Mumbai: Age no bar, walk into this 3-D printing space

mumbai 3d printing, mumbai news, Ballard Estate, CST station, indian express

Yashwardhan Kothari (to the right), Dhruv jhaveri (to the left) and Dev Kapashi (Not present in the Photo) attend these workshops to create a board game for visually challenged people. 

An electrical energy fills the room. In the corner of the century-old St. Xaviers building is located in the technology-buzzing resource centre for the visually challenged: a digital hub for the development of the latest innovations in the field for the visually impaired. The room, which sports yellow walls lined with computers, is filled with the sound of the keyboard clicking.

 

Teens Yashovardhan, Dhruv and Dev have been working tirelessly to create a trivia game for the visually impaired. "My brother is visually impaired. He often complains about how there aren't enough games in the visually impaired market. This game is dedicated to him from the 3 of us" Dhruv says. The game, a knowledge test, will use some bit of 3-D printing and some electronics. The three friends visit the visually challenged research centre to test the technology based trivia game they developed.  

 

The monthly Saturday sessions see a crowd of 5 or 6 visually challenged volunteers as Yashovardhan, Dhruv and Dev provide a platform for these volunteers to express their feedback about the game. One Saturday marked the turning point of the game as the volunteers broke the news of not being able to read braille with ease. This led to the teens coming up with the revolutionary idea of having the instructions built into the game’s voice over, thus eliminating the need of a physical braille manual.

 

“Watching the volunteers play the game brought us emotions of immense joy, satisfaction and most importantly, accomplishment” , says Dev after implementing the revolutionary idea of an inbuilt manual into the game.

 

As the feedback sessions progressed, more trivial flaws of the game were revealed that were immediately addressed with the help of their mentor Ashutosh Giri (computer scientist and engineer), such as the requirement of a play/pause button, a less mechanical voice and applause after answering a question correctly. 

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