The Sound Leading the Blind

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Scientists at Georgia Tech have come up with a pretty intriguing way to help blind people "see." Using a wearable laptop, 2 GPS receivers, a head and body compass, a gyroscope-based tracker (to measure the head's tilt, of course), 4 small cameras mounted on a helmet, and a bone phone vibrating device that hooks up to your neck (so your ears can still be free for listening to the sounds around you), the system gives you sound directions to get to your location. So, what's that mean exactly ? If you need to go straight ahead, you'll hear a tiny ringing sound from straight ahead, and if you need to turn right, the direction that sound is coming from will change. Amazingly, the sound beacon device seems to be working quite well. It only weighs about 3 pounds to lug around, and in tests it's proved pretty intuitive: people seem to get the hang of it within minutes, and can maneuver through complicated mazes within 20 minutes of use. Of course, the fact that all of the cameras are mounted on a CONSTRUCTION HELMET (instead of say, a baseball cap) does make you wonder, but I'm excited to see how this technology pans out.

Click here to read more at the MIT Tech Report (Thanks Dad!)

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August 18, 2006 - 8:12am
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