All Players Welcome: Unleashing Creative Potential and Empowering People with Disabilities


"All Players Welcome" is a collaborative initiative led by Dentsu Lab Tokyo (DLT), NTT Human Informatics Laboratories, and WITH ALS, showcasing how technology and creativity are breaking barriers and empowering people with disabilities in extraordinary ways. Join us as we uncover the journey of Masatane Muto, a DJ with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and the trailblazing innovations that have reshaped his creative expression. 

 How it started 

People with disabilities have a strong vision, strong creativity. I realized by bringing these creativities out, the world would be able to unleash new sources of creativity. As our team and I proposed on the stage of Cannes Lions, disability is a different ability - Naoki Tanaka, Dentsu Lab Tokyo

The All Players Welcome project was born out of a realization that the creative potential of individuals living with disabilities remains largely untapped. Naoki Tanaka, the executive creative director of Dentsu Lab Tokyo and the driving force behind this initiative, discovered this during his involvement in the Paralympic Games. 

 During his coordination of the Paralympic Games' opening ceremony, Naoki met Masatane Muto, a DJ living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In Masa's case, ALS caused progressive muscle weakness and loss of motor control. As a DJ, this meant that he was unable to physically wave his hands and correspond with the audience during his sets. This loss of physical interaction made it challenging for Masa to connect with his listeners in the same way he had been accustomed to. 

Phase One: Gaze Input 

The project's first phase involved developing a specialized musical instrument controlled through gaze input. The technology with gaze input works by detecting and tracking the movement of the eyes: special sensors are used to accurately capture the direction and position of the person's gaze. This input is then processed by algorithms or software to control the interface, allowing a DJ to interact with technology without the need for physical touch. It provides a way for people with disabilities, such as ALS, to express themselves freely by translating their eye movements into actions or commands. 

Phase Two: Electromyography and the Metaverse 

Building upon the success of the initial phase, the All Players Welcome project ventured into new territory. The project's second phase introduced the integration of metaverse avatars, allowing for full-scale performances almost identical to physical ones. The team utilized electromyography, a technique for capturing electrical signals produced by muscle movements — to create an avatar for Masa.  

I asked him, what do you want to do if you are able to move your body again? And then Masa said he wanted to wave his hand at the audience and correspond with the music rhythm while DJing” — Naoki Tanaka, Dentsu Lab Tokyo

The project's recent showcase at Ars Electronica in Austria and Tate Modern in London garnered widespread acclaim, revealing the immense potential of this technology to revolutionize the lives of ALS patients. 

What’s Next 

The All Players Welcome project seeks to do more than enable individuals to express themselves on stage. Naoki and his team believe in promoting the use of their tools in ordinary everyday life, expanding the creative opportunities for people with disabilities beyond the confines of exceptional events. 

As the All Players Welcome project continues to evolve, Naoki envisions a future where their tools are widely accessible. With technological advancements and growing affordability, the team believes their creative solutions will become increasingly scalable, benefiting not only those with ALS but also individuals with other conditions.