Sora Journal

Visually-Impaired Chessboard

By Jack H.

Back when I played chess more, I played someone who was almost completely blind. They had two boards, one of which was the actual board and one that was his "feeling" board. This system seemed outrageous because he had to have 2 boards in order to play and feel, and this system could be simplified. I remembered all of this after using AI to generate project ideas for my “Forces of Nature” expedition and found one similar to this experience.

Project Process


First, we brainstormed about hobbies or sports we participate in and what kind of equipment modification could enhance the performance for the user. 

Project Proposal

Identify the problem - Briefly describe the idea you have for a prototype that will replace an existing product: A better visually-impaired chessboard. 

Initial research to find out the scope of the problem:

Select at least one issue to focus on. What are the issues with the original product? Evidence to support your argumentSources (include a web page link) 
Technical IssuesPieces can be hard to tell, as some do not have a color distinction, and you don’t know what your opponent played. This can lead to many mistakes solved by just telling the person your move.I actually played someone who was visually impaired, and he had a different chess board than me and had me play the moves for him on my board and my own, and my pieces on the other board. This made it quite complicated for me and I ended up making several mistakes throughout. Another thing was that his pieces were pretty normal, except that he played with it before he was impaired. I don’t have a “source” as it is my own experience, but a lot of the boards for sale usually have 3-2 star ratings, with few having above 4.
Economic IssuesI have seen prices range from $200 to $30, whereas a normal chess board with pieces can be as low as $5. The rest of the money usually goes to making the board look nicer, not better for the visually impaired people having to use it.If you have a limited budget, it can be extremely hard to find a good board. What would be better would be having a cheaper board that is easier to tell. It needs to combine a price point and a feature point.LinkLinkLink
Health & Safety IssuesI don’t know if there are any health or safety issues, but I did find a thread on about it, and most people agreed that it isn’t really, except if you do it for a long period of time which can drain your mental.I don’t know how well I can fill this part out, but I haven’t really seen any news stories on this topic, so I would presume it is not that big of a deal.Link

Solutions - We used the SCAMMPERR (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Magnify, Modify, Put it to another use, Eliminate, Rearrange/Reverse) technique to brainstorm some possible solutions to the product.

Sketches of prototype

Newton’s Laws of Physics

How Newton’s 1st Law of Physics applies to my prototype: When the board is not being used, the pieces will not move randomly unless acted on by another force, persay a hand.

How Newton’s 2nd or 3rd Laws of Physics applies to my prototype: The second law could be applied when playing a game and accidentally knocking over a piece, or a domino effect where the third law could be taken into account when a piece falls and hits another.

Types of Forces

What types of forces act on your sport or hobby prototype when it is in use?: When it is not being moved or played, it is just normal, but when people are playing a game it will probably be applied and normal, and you could also say friction and air resistance as well.

Building & Testing the Prototype

I conducted a Consumer Survey and received all results over 6/10. Some people didn’t get how the notation input machine worked and one person didn’t like the clock, but everyone liked the board. Based on the results, I needed to make my notation input machine easier to understand and make my click a better portion. 

Here is my presentation describing the Visually-Impaired Chessboard and watch the video below to see how it works!