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A gaming platform tailored to those with special needs

Arduino TeamJanuary 31st, 2024

As a society, we have decided to enact some measures to make our world more accessible to those with disabilities. Wheelchair ramps, for example, are often legal requirements for businesses in many countries. But we tend to drop the ball when it comes to things aren’t necessities. For instance, entertainment options are an afterthought much of the time. That’s why Alain Mauer developed this LED gaming platform for people with special needs.

This device offers a lot of flexibility so that builders can tailor it to a specific individual’s own needs and tastes. Mauer designed it for his son, who is 17 years old and lives with non-verbal autism. Entertainment options intended for neurotypical people don’t engage the teen, but toys designed for children fail to hold his interest for long. This game, dubbed “Scott’s Arcade,” is simple to understand and interact with, while still offering a lot of replayability. It is also durable and able to withstand rough handling.

Scott’s Arcade consists of a “screen” made up of individually addressable RGB LEDs and a faceplate with shape cutouts that act as masks for the LEDs. An Arduino Nano controls the lights and responds to presses of the large buttons beneath the screen. It can trigger sound effects through a DFRobot DFPlayer Mini MP3 player as well.

Mauer programmed a few simple games for the device, such as a matching game that challenges the player to find the circle of the same color as the triangle. When they succeed, they’re rewarded with fanfare sound effects and flashing lights. Makers can also program their own games to suit the players’ abilities and interests.