The vOICe for Android
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Is it an augmented reality game or a serious tool? It can be both, depending on what you want it to be! The ultimate goal is to provide a form of synthetic vision to the blind, but sighted users can simply have fun playing the game of sight-without-eyesight. Visually impaired users with severe tunnel vision can try if the auditory feedback helps them notice changes in the visual periphery. You can help us by blogging and tweeting about your experiences, use cases, and how *you* learn to see with sound.
How does it work? The vOICe uses pitch for height and loudness for brightness in one-second left to right scans of any view: a rising bright line sounds as a rising tone, a bright spot as a beep, a bright filled rectangle as a noise burst, a vertical grid as a rhythm. Best used with stereo headphones for the most immersive experience and most detailed auditory resolution.
Just experiment with simple visual patterns first, because real-life imagery is complex. Randomly drop a bright item such as a DUPLO brick on a dark table top, and learn to reach for it through sound alone (closing your eyes if you have eyesight). Next try and explore your own safe home environment, learning to associate the complex sound patterns with what you already know is there. Sighted users can also use the app with Google Cardboard compatible devices through a swipe-down on the main screen to toggle the binocular view.
For serious users: learning to see with sound is like learning a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument, really challenging your perseverance and brain plasticity. It may well be the ultimate brain training system, bridging the senses through artificial synesthesia. The vOICe for Android runs on Google Glass as a side-loaded app, using the tiny camera in these glasses to generate a live sonic augmented reality overlay, hands-free! You will want to use an external battery connected via USB cable to keep the small Google Glass battery from draining too quickly.
Why is it free? Because our foremost goal is to make a real change by lowering barriers to use as much as we can. You will find that competing technologies cost upwards of $15,000 and yet have lower specs. The perceptual resolution offered by The vOICe is unmatched even by $100,000 "bionic eye" retinal implants (PLoS ONE 7(3): e33136).
Please report bugs to email@example.com, and visit the web page seeingwithsound.com/android.htm for detailed description and disclaimers. We are on Twitter at @seeingwithsound.
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v1.87: Experimental virtual reality mode for use with Google Cardboard and compatible devices (for sighted users); swipe down on main screen to toggle.
v1.86: Accessibility design change: mute toggle no longer mutes screen reader.
v1.85: USB mouse support added (e.g. for oDroid and wireless mini-keyboard with integrated trackpad), and accessibility fix for scrolling Options menu with TalkBack active.