Monday, July 22, 2013

Glasses That Help Blind People "See"

vOICe setup - pair of glasses with camera connected to laptop. Headphones are connected to laptop to listen to converted sound
Image source: Gizmodo

People who are blind since birth learn various techniques to navigate and maneuver in their surroundings without hitting obstacles. However, problems arise for those who who were born with good vision but in later stages of their lives, lost it.

For such people vOICe (as in "Oh, I See") can come to rescue.

What vOICe does is remarkable. It captures visual data and converts it into sound. Simple, right?

The converted sound is called a "soundscape". Each soundscape is a scan from the left to right ear -  the frequency of the sound represents the vertical axis of the image. The louder the audio, the brighter the image is.

Image Source: NewScientist
The vOICe consists of a pair of glasses with a camera mounted on it. The camera collects visual data and passes it on to the conversion software that the laptop connected to the glasses/camera combo runs (the idea is to carry the laptop in a backpack).The laptop in turn is connected to a pair of headphones which are worn by the user. The headphones project the sound captured and converted to the ears, essentially telling the user where/ how far an object/obstacle is.

Studies have suggested that the brain adapts quickly to the long term use of this device, allowing users to "see" the sound. A long time user of vOICe, who lost her sight, has even crossed the English Channel just by listening to audio signals from vOICe.

Watch the following video to see vOICe in action.


Hit the source links to read more about vOICe.

Source: NewScientist via Gizmodo

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