London Met and Microsoft share charity award

Computer project that helps blind children exercise wins Guide Dog Association ‘Best Partnership’ award

Date: 10 January 2014

Computing students and staff at London Metropolitan University’s Gamelab facility have won a major award for their work to help blind children.

Gamelab, London Met’s in-house digital media company, was named ‘Partner of the Year’ at the Guide Dog Association Awards 2013, a prize they shared with computer giant Microsoft. The accolade was awarded after Gamelab developed software for an interactive game that helps blind and partially sighted children stay active.

Professor Martin Wright, Director of Gamelab, said: “We were approached by the Guide Dogs Association around whether we could develop a movement training application for blind children. The children’s usual exercise routine can be monotonous, so the challenge was to develop a game which incorporated these exercises but was fun and stimulating.”

Gamelab utilised its Kinect system, which uses sensors to recognise body movement, to develop the game. The Kinect technology was combined with a novel 3D audio environment to give the blind children a fully immersive experience. Gamelab had used this audio technology previously when it developed an audio game for the BBC.  

“We worked with pupils at the Joseph Clarke School, a school for blind children, in Walthamstow, and came up with the ‘Nepalese Necklace’ game, which presents the children with a challenging adventure to complete,” Professor Wright said.  

Gamelab creates digital content such as animations and computer games. Many members of the team are London Met graduates, including alumni who studied BSc Multimedia Solutions, BSc Computer Games and the MSc in Interactive Media and Games Technologies. Its continuing success reflects the skills and knowledge that London Met students graduate with.

The team were invited to a special ceremony to collect their prize, which was presented by Former Home Secretary the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP and TV personality Adrian Chiles. Professor Wright added: “It was good to meet David Blunkett again - he launched our Blind Maths game back in 2007. He thanked us for what we are doing for blind children.” 

The latest award is one of many won by Gamelab, including eight BAFTA nominations since 2006 and a recent prize from the In
dependent Games Association.  

The Guide Dogs Association said: “Gamelab have worked with [us] on software which encourages children with sight loss to practice exercises to improve their skills in getting around, and the feedback from children is extremely positive.

“Gamelab truly went the extra mile and teachers praised them for their dedication, expertise and professionalism.”

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'Proof of Concept' mobility programme

Guide Dogs has worked with Game Lab to develop a 'Proof of Concept' mobility programme to enhance and support mobility training for blind and partially sighted children.