Virtual Ball Run (from Project 'Schaukasten' 2017-2018)

Conventional ball runs are usually made from wood and used with marbles. Their easy handling and comprehensible principle of action and reaction – a marble placed into it will run down the slope – make them a popular therapeutic toy among occupational therapists and related professionals when exercising with impaired children. However, traditional ball runs are often too fast paced and not perceivable for children with low vision, making it impossible to fixate the moving ball with their eyes. In the course of the Schaukasten Project, we created a virtual ball run with tangible elements to extend it with properties only the digital can afford, for example, magnification of the marbles or change of color or physical behavior of the ball run in order to support visually impaired children in tracking them with their eyes.

We are currently testing the overall acceptance of the concept with visually impaired children. As the preliminary results are encouraging, we will go on to implement different ball run tracks, special effects (cheers and playful sounds from the speaker, etc.), and then test the prototype with additional children. Motivated by the ophthalmologist, we will also research into the feasibility of eye tracking to assess children’s vision while playing with the toy.

Test video of Virtual Ball Run v0.5

The prototype can recognize different colors and translate a physical ball into a virtual one.



  • This research was funded by "Gemeinsame Gesundheitsziele aus dem Rahmen-Pharmavertrag, eine Kooperation von österreichischer Pharmawirtschaft und Sozialversicherung".
  • The virtual ball run app was implemented by Peter Fikar using Unity3D.


  • Fikar, P.,Güldenpfennig, F., & Ganhör, R. (2018). Pick, Place, and Follow: A Ball Run for Visually Impaired Children. To appear at DIS'18. Poster.