New device helps the blind 'see through sounds'
A "revolutionary" device that helps people use sounds to build images in their brain could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for the blind, scientists say.
The vOICE sensory substitution device trains the brain to turn sounds into images, allowing people to create a picture of the things around them.
Researchers at the University of Bath say The vOICE could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for blind and partially sighted people.
A team from the university's Department of Psychology asked blindfolded, sighted participants to use the device while taking an eye test. Results showed the participants –even without any training with the device – were able to achieve the best performance possible.
Dr Michael Proulx, who led the University of Bath team, said: "This level of visual performance exceeds that of the invasive technique for vision restoration, such as stem cell implants and retinal prostheses after extensive training.
"The affordable and non-invasive nature of The vOICE provides another option. Sensory substitution devices are not only an alternative, but might also be best employed in combination with such invasive techniques to train the brain to see again or for the first time."