Headset Creates “soundscape” for blind people to see
A new headset, still in its prototype stage, tells visually impaired people what’s in front of them by playing different sounds for different objects. Eventually the headset, called EyeMusic, may be able to help visually impaired people with such everyday tasks as choosing produce at the supermarket, according to EyeMusic’s creators.The inventors, a team of neuroscientists at the Hebrew University in Israel, said they proved the feasibility of the device by testing it on sighted people who were blindfolded.
The EyeMusic headset looks like a pair of sunglasses with attached headphones and a webcam mounted on the nose bridge. The camera scans the scene in front of the wearer from left to right. As the camera pans, the earphones play sounds corresponding to the height, color and brightness of what the camera sees.
Higher-pitched notes represent taller objects. Different electronic instruments represent different colors — buzzy vocals indicate white, for example, while digital trumpets play for blue. Brighter colors translate to louder sounds.
“The notes … span five octaves and were carefully chosen by musicians to create a pleasant experience for the users,” Amir Amedi, who is leading the research, said in a statement. Amedi published some sample sounds ; they weren’t exactly pretty, but they were tolerable.
Visually impaired EyeMusic wearers might use the headset to choose red apples from a pile of red and green ones, EyeMusic’s inventors suggested. In the future, EyeMusic might be adapted for Kinect and Xbox games.
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