Making it Work

Field of Vision aims to bring sport to life for tens of millions of visually impaired fans

The Dublin firm has teamed up with the likes of Bohemians FC and Telstra

Field of Vision: Tim Farrelly, co-founder and chief technology officer; David Deneher, co-founder and chief operating officer; and Omar Salem, co-founder and chief executive. Picture: Paul Sharp

Field of Vision, a Dublin-based start-up, is helping the visually impaired have a better experience at live sporting events.

Field of Vision is based at Dogpatch Labs and has created a haptic response tablet for use at different sports. The device is held by the user and it buzzes to provide ideas of where the ball is and what is happening.

The business was founded by David Deneher, Tim Farrelly and Omar Salem in 2020 and has raised €250,000 in funding to date.

“Over 100 million visually impaired sports fans across the world rely entirely on commentary to experience live sports. They usually have to rely on friends or the stadium announcers to know what is happening,” Deneher told the Business Post.

“From speaking with visually impaired people, the general consensus is that audio-described commentary is a help but it doesn’t convey the intensity of a live game.”

Those insights helped shape the idea of what Field of Vision would be. Cameras are placed across sports stadiums which use artificial intelligence to track the position of the ball and other pieces of key information. This information is sent back to the handheld device to provide insights to the user.

Fact File

Founded by: David Deneher, Tim Farrelly and Omar Salem in 2020

Staff: 3

Funding: €250,000

“It was a lockdown baby. We were all friends from back in secondary school, at Sutton Park. The technology allows visually impaired fans to independently experience games,” Deneher said.

“Omar saw viral videos of blind fans at games with friends describing the action to them and he thought that technology could be used to make it a better experience. None of us are visually impaired or even have visually impaired relatives so it’s a new world for us but we have learned a lot about accessibility along the way.”

The trio went through a series of accelerators, including one in Qatar, which helped them to build up key connections. This includes working with Man City in the English Premier League and Toyota for motor racing in Japan.

“Our main partner in Dublin has been Bohemian FC and they’ve been phenomenal. They allowed us to train our computer vision model at Dalymount Park. We’ve done a few pilot programmes with their blind fans as well,” Deneher said.

“We’ve also worked with the Irish FA in Windsor Park as well as many games with Man City.”

The biggest partnership to date has been with Telstra, an Australian telecoms company. The business was seeking partners to show off its 5G technology and reached out to Field of Vision in 2022. The business subsequently adapted its technology for use in Aussie Rules at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

Deneher credits Enterprise Ireland with providing substantial support along the way. “We’ve only been with them since the end of last year but they’ve been a huge help. We’re in the HPSU [high potential start-up unit] and we got to pitch to the chief technologists of the biggest rugby federations in the world as a result,” he said.

“We also went to Atlanta in the US with Enterprise Ireland and we were able to pitch to Georgia Tech University, the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA, and meet the organisers of the Comcast Sports Tech accelerator.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland