TELSTRA has today announced a new project, designed to improve the game-day experience for AFL fans who are visually impaired, using the power of 5G.
Over 400,000 people in Australia are either blind or have low vision, and a third of Australians support an AFL Club. Telstra has developed the 5G Touch and Track prototype to create a more immersive, interactive, and enjoyable experience so that no fan is left behind.
An Australian first, the 5G Touch and Track prototype was developed working in partnership with Field of Vision, a tech start-up dedicated to transforming the way in which people who are blind or visually impaired enjoy sports.
The 5G enabled tablet device translates live sports into a haptic experience, allowing fans who are visually impaired to track the on-field action with just their fingertips.
The speed and low latency of Telstra 5G enables the on-field action to be translated onto the tablet and felt in near real time, which will really bring to life the live sport experience for vision impaired fans.
Telstra Sports Technology Lead, Chris Harrop said, "The number of people in Australia living with blindness or low vision is enough to fill Marvel Stadium more than six times. We want vision impaired fans to have access to the technology they need to bring a live AFL match to life, and we're excited for the opportunities this project may bring. It's all about the fans and we believe that 5G Touch and Track has real potential to revolutionise the live sports experience at Marvel and beyond."
"Telstra and the AFL have been in business together for over 20 years and Telstra is now the technology and innovation partner for Marvel Stadium. We are currently piloting this technology at the stadium, and our ambition is to eventually offer the 5G Touch and Track to visually impaired fans at stadiums across the country."
Carlton Football Club forward Corey Durdin said: “The 5G Touch and Track project is really important to me. I connect to it personally, as my sister Shianne is visually impaired. It would be fantastic for her to experience live sport in a similar way to other fans.”
AFL Blind player and passionate Bulldogs supporter Shaun Keath said, "As a blind fan, live sound and commentary, no matter how detailed, doesn't fully capture the intensity and excitement of a live game. It can also be incredibly isolating in a live sport environment when you're amongst a crowd."
Reflecting on his experience with the first 5G Touch and Track prototype, AFL Blind player and fan Shaun Keath said it was remarkable.
"It's something I thought would never be around in my time. It's a game changer. It is going to make sport a lot more inclusive and accessible; it's great for the community," Mr Keath said.
AFL Executive General Manager Customer and Commercial Kylie Rogers said: "We're so pleased to work with partners such as Telstra who are finding more and more ways to help our beloved AFL Fans enjoy football. The 5G Touch and Track is so important in helping keep our game accessible and inclusive for all."
Currently in the prototype stage, Telstra and Field of Vision will continue to develop the 5G Touch and Track device with the ambition of producing a more refined product in the coming years. Working closely with supporters such as Vision Australia, AFL and AFL Blind, the user experience will be at the forefront of the prototyping process.