Even under normal circumstances, mountain biking can be an extremely dangerous sport. Not only does it involve hurtling down winding, unpredictable terrain at speeds of up to 70km/h, mountain bikers also need to be constantly on the lookout for obstacles like loose stones, branches, and even death-defying drops that can appear out of nowhere. Now, consider doing all of this with your eyes closed and you might just begin to understand how Xavier Hopkins, a British mountain biker with less than 10% eyesight, feels each time he gets behind the handlebars.
Hopkins, who was born with albinism, suffers from highly sensitive eyes as well as a condition called nystagmus, which causes his eyes to move involuntarily from side to side. To him, anything further than two meters appears as a great blur, making it difficult for him to accurately perceive distances.
“Being a blind mountain biker might seem like a stupid hobby, but it's helped me accept who I am and given me something to focus on and something that feels like my thing. ” Hopkins said before.
This, however, hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his love of mountain biking. But in order to give himself the best chance of making it down the mountain in good health and in good time, Hopkins needs to undertake significant preparations before each ride. Before letting himself loose down the slopes, Hopkins will walk each route and meticulously study every detail to account for as many potential dangers as possible. He checks the position of every stone, every slope, even every branch that could be a potential obstacle.
But no level of preparation can completely eliminate the risks involved in what is fundamentally a very dangerous sport. Hopkins counts a broken clavicle and damage to his neck as among his more serious injuries. “I’m very committed to the sport, I love what I do and a few crashes aren’t going to get in my way.” he said before.
To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day this year, OPPO has teamed up with Hopkins to create a short film showing how inspirational technology can empower people such as Hopkins to pursue their dreams. In the film, futurist AI technology is used to create a 3D model of the mountain routes that Hopkins travels and to predict road conditions in almost real time, enabling him to visualize the road ahead just like anyone else. Although the technology in the film may appear like something from a distant future, it is in fact all based on real prototypes developed by OPPO, like its assisted Reality device OPPO Air Glass and the AR application CyberReal 2.0.
OPPO has strongly believes that the benefits of technology should be equally accessible to all. In addition to including a suite of accessibility features on its own products, OPPO has also recently launched the OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator — a platform through which it will work with innovators worldwide to develop accessible technology and digital health solutions aimed at empowering people to live life their own way.
So, how exactly can we empower those from all walks of life to enjoy technology to its fullest and use it as means to pursue their dreams?
Designing accessible technology means reducing barriers
Accessible design is the first point of creating a good user experience with digital equality. It should consider both the psychological and physiological characteristics of those it aims to serve, simplifying operating processes and user interfaces in a way that make the latest technology better suited to them.
For example, OPPO’s first assisted Reality (aR) device, OPPO Air Glass, can provide information to users in a quicker and more direct way. The portable nature of OPPO Air Glass, together with its powerful AI speech to text conversion technology, could also potentially be used to help those with hearing impairments communicate more naturally, and OPPO is already working with other organizations to test out this application of the technology.
ColorOS meanwhile includes features such as simple mode, mono audio, screen reader, screen sharing, Remote Guardian, and others that help elderly users request help through their smartphone and enjoy a more convenient user experience on the whole.
Product customization is an ongoing process of improvement that never reaches perfection
Accessible design revolves around catering to the specific needs of various groups, but upon closer inspection, even more specific needs can often be found within these groups themselves. Without accurately assessing these needs, it’s simply not possible to design or apply technology in a way that meaningfully solves the issues that these user groups may face.
Take color blindness for example. Those with color vision deficiencies will all see the world in a slightly different way. Some people are unable to see brown, whereas some can’t tell the difference between red and green. For every color that exists, there are people in the world who see the color in a different way. OPPO’s Color Vision Enhancement brings the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test to smartphone for the first time to replace existing color compensation schemes that only allow for adjustment of red, green and blue levels. The professional color vision testing found in OPPO’s Color Vision Enhancement can help users identify both the existence and the severity of color vision deficiencies, from which they can select one of 766 different color profiles for their smartphone display, each of which is accurately mapped to a specific color vision deficiency.
Pooling inspiration from the most innovative minds
Making innovation accessible to more people is not something that can be solved by just one individual or one organization. It’s a monumental challenge that requires collaboration across science, technology, and society as a whole. Through the OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator, OPPO hopes to find and collaborate with other likeminded innovators who are driven by the same purpose of using technology and creative inspiration to build a better world. Whether that be through the creation of accessible technology or digital health solutions, OPPO is looking forward to working with others to bring more equal, inclusive, and thoughtful technology experiences people worldwide.