Before the ubiquity of GPS, drivers had to look at maps and memorize directions. Blind people experience a similar problem when walking through unknown territory, but there hasn’t been an easy way for them to “look” at a map in preparation for a trip.
Now researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School have developed software that uses audio signals to convey a map of an area that a blind person will then walk through. Using this Audio-based Environment Simulator (AbES) the team showed that it was able to “greatly engage the blind user to actively explore the virtual environment.” The team believes such a system can be put to wider use among the visually impaired to help them plan their day and in turn become more able and independent.
Article in Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE): Development of an Audio-based Virtual Gaming Environment to Assist with Navigation Skills in the Blind