The Right Coast

April 30, 2005
Seeing with Sound
By Mike Rappaport

Our colleague, Adam Kolber, who has a great blog on Neuroethics and Law, reports:

Quirks & Quarks" a radio show on Canada's CBC has an interesting segment on technology that helps blind people to navigate the world by translating images into sounds. The program explains how images from portable, tiny video cameras can be translated into sounds by modifying pitch, volume, and the like to represent features of the visual world. Obviously, the technology is imperfect, but according to the program, it can enable a blind person to distinguish a soccer ball from a football using sound alone! Brain scanning suggests that people using the technology are activating parts of the brain that are associated with vision in sighted people.