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EyeMusic Sensory Substitution Device enables the blind to 'see' colors and shapes
Date:2/4/2014

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"This study is a demonstration of abilities showing that it is possible to encode the basic building blocks of shape using the EyeMusic," explains Prof. Amir Amedi. "Furthermore, the success in associating color to musical timbre holds promise for facilitating the representation of more complex shapes."

In addition to successfully identifying shapes and colors, users in the new EyeMusic study indicated they found the SSD's soundscapes to be relatively pleasant and potentially tolerable for prolonged use. "In soundscapes generated from images," notes Prof. Amedi, "there is a tendency for adjacent frequencies to be played together. Using a semitone western scale would then generate sounds that are perceived as highly dissonant. Therefore, to generate more pleasant soundscapes, we used the pentatonic musical scale that generates less dissonance when adjacent notes are played together."

While this new study shows that the EyeMusic can enable the visually impaired to extract visual shape and color information using auditory soundscapes of objects, researchers feel that this device also holds great promise for the field of visual rehabilitation in general. By providing additional color information, the EyeMusic can help facilitate object recognition and scene segmentation, while the pleasant soundscapes offer the potential of prolonged use.

"There is evidence suggesting that the brain is organized as a task-machine and not as a sensory machine. This strengthens the view that SSDs can be useful for visual rehabilitation, and therefore we suggest that the time may be ripe for turning part of the SSD spotlight back on practical visual rehabilitation," Prof. Amedi adds. "In the future, it would be intriguing to test whether the use of naturalistic sounds, like music and human voice, can facilitate learning and brain processing relying on the developed neural networks for music and human voice processing."

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Contact: Daphne Watrin
d.watrin@iospress.nl
31-206-883-355
IOS Press
Source:Eurekalert  

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