The founders of Field of Vision – technology that helps visually impaired individuals feel the action of live sport – intend to test the handheld haptic device at Dalymount Park in Dublin in the coming weeks, shortly after taking home the top prize at student entrepreneur competition LaunchBox 2021.
Tim Farrelly, David Deneher and Omar Salem, the team behind Field of Vision, got the idea to develop the touch-based device after Mr Salem observed sport fans tracing the position of the ball on behalf of family members with visual impairments and wondered if AI technology could be used in a similar way.
By using artificial intelligence to analyse live video feeds of games, Field of Vision translates what is happening on the field to tablet devices through “haptic feedback”, creating a more immersive experience than audio-description headsets alone.
“Audio description is only half the jigsaw. We want our device to provide the other half of the jigsaw,” said Mr Deneher, who is chief operating officer.
Bohemians supporters with visual impairments will test the device while they are at the Dalymount Park stadium, giving product feedback and helping the founders iron out technical bugs.
At the annual LaunchBox "Demo Day" event hosted by Trinity College Dublin, Field of Vision competed against nine other student entrepreneur teams after pitching the product to a panel of judges.
Shortlisted ventures received €10,000 to invest in their business, while Field of Vision was awarded an additional €3,000 prize and six months' access to co-working space at Dublin start-up hub Dogpatch Labs.
“The co-working space is a big one for us,” said Mr Deneher. The trio – who went to school together – have found they are more productive when working in the same room.
Mr Deneher and Mr Farrelly, chief technology officer, are third-year students at Trinity and Mr Salem, chief executive, is in his third year at Queen’s University Belfast. The team also recently won Enterprise Ireland’s student entrepreneur of the year award.
“It’s great to win these types of things. On a long day, you can start to doubt yourself, but when you win, it gives you a big boost,” Mr Deneher said.
After the testing phase, Field of Vision will proceed to small-scale manufacturing and will then seek more investment “very soon”, he added.
More than 70 companies applied to this year's LaunchBox, with the shortlisted companies representing industries from book publishing to zero-waste plastics. The scheme is sponsored by Bank of Ireland and managed by Tangent, Trinity's Ideas Workspace.
Furniture upcycling app ReFunk and yacht-parking and fee-management start-up Park Turtle finished in second and third places respectively.
Since 2013, the student ventures involved with LaunchBox have created about 278 jobs and raised more than €73.2 million in investment and funding, Trinity College Dublin said.