Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Can the Blind "Hear" Colors, Shapes? Yes, Shows Researchers
An article in the Science Daily has opened up a whole new door for those who have a loss of vision. Research conducted by Professor Amir Amendi at the Center for Human Perception and Cognition, has given some hope for the visually impaired by using Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs) which are sensory aids that provide the blind with visual info by utilizing their other existing senses. The blind wear a mini camera on their head which is connected to a computer or a smart phone and also to headphones. the computer or smart phone then uses the images recorded by the camera and converts them into "soundscapes," based on a basic algorithm, thus allowing the individual to hear the "soundscapes" and interpret the image captured by the camera. The app EyeMusic SSD enables the individual to hear pleasant musical notes that suggest information about colors, shapes or location of objects in the environment. This task involves prior training before being able to identify and interpret the information that is given. In Scientific journals, Neuron and Current Biology, this app was used by the blind to show that it can convey images from the sounds they hear into complicated categories such as identifying faces, or an entire outdoor scenery, locate positions of people, and even recognize facial expressions and read letters. This YouTube video demonstrates these abilities. Although this instrument had not been widely used by the blind population due to various factors such as price, size of equipment, etc. Things have been improved by reducing the cost and making SSD usable even in a smart phone and new trainings that are more efficient in order to get this into the population and to start using it more in day-to-day lives.
Posted by: Jefi Varghese (3)