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Seeing with sound'

Seeing with sound
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A sensory device voice trains brain to turn sound into images London (PTI) : How well can you 'see' with your ears?, Scientists claim to have...

A sensory device voice trains brain to turn sound into images

voice device for blindsLondon (PTI) : How well can you 'see' with your ears?, Scientists claim to have developed a "revolutionary" new device that helps blind people to 'see' by using sounds to build an image in their minds, of the things around them. The new sensory substitution device 'vOICe' trains the brain to turn sounds into images and could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for blind and partially-sighted people, researchers said.

The research team from the University of Bath, in UK, led by Dr Michael Proulx looked at how blind-folded sighted participants responded to an eye test using the device. They were asked to perform a standard eye chart test called the Snellen Tumbling E test, which asked participants to view the letter E turned in four different directions and in various sizes. Normal, best-corrected visual acuity is considered 20/20, calculated in terms of the distance (in feet) and the size of the E on the eye chart. The participants, even without any training in the use of the device, were able to perform the best performance possible, nearly 20/400.

The vOICe vision technology for the totally blind offers the experience of live camera views through sophisticated image-to-sound renderings. In theory this use of digital senses could lead to synthetic vision with truly visual sensations ("qualia") through crossmodal sensory integration, by exploiting the existing multisensory processing and neural plasticity of the human brain through training and education. The vOICe implements a form of sensory substitution where the goal is to bind visual input to visual qualia with a minimum of training time and effort, and improve quality of life (QoL) for blind users. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

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