Restoring Vision : Blind “See” Through Sound with Smart Glasses

Australian researchers have pioneered “acoustic touch,” a cutting-edge technology that allows people to “see” through sound. This innovation has the potential to profoundly improve the lives of the blind and those with low vision.

Globally, around 39 million people are blind, and an additional 246 million live with low vision, which affects their daily activities.

The next-generation smart glasses, developed by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney, in collaboration with Sydney start-up ARIA Research, transform visual information into distinct sound icons.

Distinguished Professor Chin-Teng Lin, a leading expert in brain-computer interface research at the University of Technology Sydney, explained that unlike typical smart glasses, which use computer vision, acoustic touch technology translates objects into unique sound representations as they enter the wearer’s field of view. For instance, rustling leaves might signify a plant, while a buzzing sound could represent a mobile phone.

A recent study, led by Dr. Howe Zhu from the University of Technology Sydney and published in the journal PLOS ONE, investigated the effectiveness and usability of acoustic touch technology for the blind. They conducted tests with 14 participants: seven with blindness or low vision and seven blindfolded sighted individuals as a control group.

The results were promising. Wearable devices equipped with acoustic touch technology significantly improved the ability of visually impaired individuals to recognize and reach for objects without undue mental effort.

Dr. Zhu noted that the auditory feedback empowers users to identify and reach objects with remarkable accuracy, suggesting that acoustic touch could offer an effective method of sensory augmentation for the visually impaired.

This research highlights the importance of developing assistive technology to address challenges like finding household items and personal belongings. Acoustic touch technology has the potential to enhance the independence and quality of life for those who areblind or have low vision.

As this technology continues to advance, it could become an integral part of assistive technologies, enabling individuals to navigate their environment more efficiently and effectively.

Source NeuroScienceNews

Author: Neurologica