No eyesight? No problem. Let the ears see it! With a new device that translates visual input into auditory signals, the brain’s neuroplasticity kicks in transforming images taken by a camera, worn on the head of the user, into “soundscapes”. As always, all the brain requires to re-wire itself is repetition, and in this case re-wires the brain to provide the user with information about their surroundings. As the camera scans, dark areas correspond to loud sounds and white areas produce no sound.
Normal, best-corrected visual acuity is 20/20. Using this device, the “vOICe”, the visual performance for users exceeds that of the current invasive and much more expensive techniques for improving vision. In the best of outcomes, stem cell implants and retinal prostheses restore vision to 20/800. Users who re-wired their brains to utilize the “vOICe”, were able to achieve 20/400 vision. Researchers at the University of Bath in England who developed this technique, predict that ever-improving technology will improve the results even further.
References: Alastair Haigh, David J. Brown, Peter Meijer, Michael J. Proulx. How well do you see what you hear? The acuity of visual-to-auditory sensory substitution. Frontiers in Psychology, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00330 (open access)