Back in Dec ‘18,  when the NGO Samarthanam visited us, we were filled with awe, looking at the expertise of their visually challenged volunteers  in using computers and mobile phones. They were able to use them just like anyone with normal vision. This inspired us to think of a product which can leverage their dexterity in using electronic gadgets. In the introduction talk they stressed that they were looking for a solution which is for everyone. Where a visually challenged person does not feel at a disadvantage, when playing with a normally sighted person. 

Board games are one of the most popular leisure activities for people of all ages. Samarthanam had already demonstrated to us how they played chess, and the requirement for a special slotted board for the same, so that the players don’t accidentally displace the chess pieces. What this meant that, if they were to play other board games like snake & ladder, Ludo etc. they would need specially manufactured board for each of them. “What is the workaround?” we thought. That’s when we got the idea of a configurable board games.

The idea is to use a common board for all the games. The only thing that would change is a layer of stencil on top of the screen. By stencil, we mean a layer of plastic with slots that can provide a sense of feedback, when the player is trying to move the pieces from one square to another. The game would actually be displayed on the touch-enabled LCD screen, interfaced with a micro-processor. So, a normally sighted person can play and enjoy the game equally.

The game rules are coded in a program which is loaded into the micro-processor, which would act as a moderator throughout the duration of the game. The base of the game pieces is made up of touch sensitive material. When the game begins, both player start from a known state. On the roll of dice (press of the button in our case), each player is expected to go to the respective slot. When the player places the piece on the touchscreen, its location is detected, and compared with its expected location, as calculated by the moderator (our program). The game moves to next turn, only when the pieces are in correct position.

The main advantage of having game as a software is, we can rearrange the board for each new round, so the positions of snake and ladder could change with every round!, beating the monotonicity of a regular board game. Secondly, to switch to another game like monopoly, the player only needs to change the stencil and load a new board (software). Shown below is our proposed model:

Image 1: Proposed Model

Currently we are finishing up with the implementation of Snake and Ladders game, doing few tweaks to make the experience identical to a conventional board games. We are looking at other board games like Monopoly for future implementation.

Here are the components we are using. A power supply module, interface boards, few buttons, a microcontroller, and the touch screen. We haven’t interfaced the LCD yet, that’s in the works. The wires are disconnected, the components rearranged, and a few filters applied to make for a nicer picture.


Image 2: Components 

Let us know if you are interested in this project and would like to be a part of it, or give some suggestions for improvement. Thanks for reading!


Nishant Singh

  • Role at ADI: Design Engineer at Audio DSP team(PDSP), at ADBL.
  • A bit about me: Outside work, I am an electronics hobbyist, working on DIY projects. Whenever, I see a long break coming up, I plan for a trek in the Himalayas, which recharges me for another stint at the city life.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: Project playtime gives me the opportunity to create impact at a local level. Not only I get a chance to design and implement a product from scratch, but knowing that the idea has potential to bring joy to the lives of others, brings me a great deal of satisfaction.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Table Tennis, Badminton, Hiking, reading fiction.

Alok Singh Thakur

  • Role at ADI: CAD Engineer, Engineering Enablement team, at ADBL.
  • A bit about me: I am a linguaphile at heart. In my free time, I like to research about and learn languages.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: The happiness that stems out of making a direct impact on the lives of the visually challenged people.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Playing Piano

Rajib Sarkar

  • Role at ADI: Senior Design Engineer at Audio DSP team (PDSP), at ADBL.
  • A bit about me: Well, I’m into design/verification of high performance SoC for digital signal processing as my day job and a DIYer/Maker outside workhours and over weekends. It’s very difficult to switch interest from one to other as both are so amazing. I’ve keen interest in robotics, hobby electronics, mechanical design and fabrication process. I own multiple FDM 3D printer (of which 2 I designed myself) and a mini CNC/Laser engraver - tools to realize my dreams. I’m also a member of local (Bangalore) Maker-Space where I get to meet some amazing like-minded people outside work.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: During the Playtime inauguration at ADBL when our visually challenged guests demonstrated how have they embraced technology in their everyday life and making the best use of it, I was very much moved. It was amazing to see how certain accessibility options of a computing device enabled them doing so much. Board games being the center piece of indoor recreational activity which also suits this kind of disabilities best, we want to target that. Along with fun potion it also develops a great deal of strategical abilities. So, we wanted to make sure with the help of technology we diminish the disadvantage of a visually challenged player from a regular one and enable him/her to enjoy the game to the fullest.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Avid follower of North Indian Classical music and Amateur Flute Player, Playing Table Tennis & Badminton.

Harshit Gaharwar

  • Role at ADI: Product Application Lead at Audio DSP team (PDSP), at ADBL
  • A bit about me: Worked on SHARC family and assisting customer for solution developed over SHARC processors. I work closely on boot and security infrastructure in recent processors.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: Trying to bridge the gap between the real-life problems through technology.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Playing Cricket and following educational videos.
  • Frank, Thanks for showing interest in this project. Yes, the primary idea what we’ve started with is exactly which you’ve mentioned – to aid hassle free positioning/movement of pieces and spot checking of piece type.


    Having said that – we’ve also explored the other aspect of bringing a visually challenged player at the same level of a normal one in terms of quick, accurate and vivid board state awareness in strategy rich games like chess. We thought of adopting an audio readout of the all/specific pieces/board-positions after every move.  And the other option - with flat engraved pieces, slotted in the stencil just hover both the palms on the board, feel it and readout. The audio feedback option can be little difficult to adapt, to build a full board picture in mind with incremental but accurate information over comparatively longer time. The latter option would be quicker but again it’ll take time/practice to quickly distinguish various pieces/positions. The best option could be a mix of both – touch pieces to get the broad picture quickly and then selectively get audio feedback to confirm if in doubt.


    We’re very much open to all novel solution. Feel free to share your thought.

  • I am curious about the level of visual impairment that is to be addressed by this solution. That is, whether this tool is to aid fine positioning of pieces and spot checking of piece type, or if it is to be the primary source of the broad understanding of the board state. For games with very simple topology and limited interconnections like snakes& ladders or even Monopoly this may matter little, but for games with many positions and complex positional relationships (chess, checkers, Go) this is a critical question. In these latter cases the game board unburdens the player who need not keep all these relationships in their mind to make decisions.
    There may be some newer, less common games that are strategically rich but are not quite so dependent of on so many positional relationships that could still use a solution like this to aid in piece positioning and recognition.