Sensory substitution devices will help blind to ‘hear’ colors, shapes

Washington, March 11: A new study has revealed that blind people will be able to “hear” colors and shapes with the help of sensory substitution devices (SSDs), which will be able to convey the information to the brain non-invasively through other senses.

The researchers at the Center for Human Perception and Cognition are offering blind and visually impaired tools via training with SSDs, to receive environmental visual information and interact with it.

The user wears a miniature camera connected to a small computer (or smart phone) and stereo headphones, and then the images are converted into “soundscapes” using a predictable algorithm, which allows the user to listen to and then interpret the visual information coming from the camera.

The researchers have found that during processing “visual information” conveyed through SSD, congenitally blind people who learned to read by touch using the Braille script or through their ears with sensory substitution devices, used the same areas in the visual cortex as those used by sighted readers.

Prof. Amir Amedi said that the human brain is more flexible than they thought and the findings give a lot of hope for the successful regaining of visual functions using cheap non-invasive SSDs or other invasive sight restoration approaches.

Amedi added that they have found that in the blind, brain areas have the potential to be ‘awakened’ to process visual properties and tasks even after years or maybe even lifelong blindness, if the proper technologies and training approaches are used. (ANI)