Seeing with sound headset
When I first started writing on this blog one of the things I wrote about is why people have such a passion for gadgets. I argued that people bought gadgets because they wanted either to show off, collect them as fashion accessories, or because they hadn’t lost their childhood love of toys.
I missed one class of gadgets that can fundamentally improve people’s quality of life, and this device would fall into that category. It’s a device that enables blind people to “see” by converting light into an audio signal, which with practice can be heard and interpreted as an “image” of their local environment.
The vOICe system was developed by a researcher at the Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven, Holland. The eye glasses feature a built-in camera that scans the immediate surroundings once a second.
Using signal processing software, the camera images are converted into sound with:
• bright regions being heard as loud sounds
• objects at the top of the of the frame of vision appearing as high notes
• bright objects on the left side producing a sound that will appear as a loud sound in your left ear…
and so on.
The human brain being the wonder that it is, after a period of time, a person can interpret the audio signals of clicks and beeps in both ears, so that you can build up a mental picture of your surroundings from the cacophony of sound that the device produces.
If you want to hear the signals that would be produced by an image on your computer, you can download software from the vOICe manufacturer’s web site, which converts jpeg images into the audio signals that would be produced by the vOICe system.
It’s clear to me that this is a device in its infancy, and of course it can only help blind people who can hear, but this is certainly one gadget that will make a profound impact on people’s lives.
Found via SciFi.com.