Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Echolocation for Blind Users to Locate Objects

Echolocation researchers
The researchers in the large anechoic chamber
Studies on echolocation, the ability of humans to detect (and in many cases, dodge) objects by detecting echoes from these objects, started in the 1950s. To continue and add to the findings of these studies, researchers at the University of Southampton conducted a series of experiments to find out whether blind people can use the same tools/techniques used by bats and dolphins to detect objects which would help them navigate in their immediate surrounding. Humans, bats, and dolphins have a common set of specialized brain processes that can locate the source of the sound. 

The researchers, including Daniel Rowan,  used Diane Marks (among other blind and sighted volunteers) for their experiments. Diane lost her sight 16 years ago.  

Testing chamber
Bats and Dolphins are well known to use echolocation to navigate through the dark and the ocean very effectively. The purpose of Rowan's experiments was to determine how effective humans can be in learning the same techniques that bats and dolphins use. For these experiments, Rowan and his team built a special large anechoic chamber to demonstrate that both blind and sighted people can use sound to locate objects (see video for details). They also determined that some people are better at locating the source of sound than others, however, they think that the ability to track the location of sound gets better with more experience and feedback.

Do watch the video at the source link (itv) to learn more about these experiments!



1 comment:

  1. Dr. Rowan is doing great research to contribute to the field of human echolocation. Thanks for posting this.

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