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. You can also help us by blogging or tweeting about how *you* learn to see with sound. The vOICe for Android is compatible with Google Glass, 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, and access to The vOICe's special options is currently still limited on Glass. The vOICe for Android also contains experimental support for UVC compliant webcams (requires USB host support).
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit the web page seeingwithsound.com/android.htm for detailed description and disclaimers. We are on Twitter at @seeingwithsound.
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v1.63: Fix for ZXing barcode scanner no longer returning search results. Tweaked UVC camera support.
v1.62: Emergency fix as UVC camera mode reportedly reboots some Samsung phones (Galaxy S3, I8262). To still activate UVC camera support, select "activate UVC camera" via Options | "Help on keys".
v1.61: Auto-detect external UVC camera upon connecting with suitable Android devices (requires USB host support). UVC camera support is still a work in progress. Bug fixes.