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Neuroscience and Accessibility: Enhancing sensory "vision"

Mar 25, 2021


Scientists and innovators keep exploring and expanding the ways that people who are visually impaired or blind can more fully experience the world. The latest "Top Tech Tidbits" e-newsletter includes several items showing how neuroscientific research, applied to our other senses, is creating enhanced sensory input for people with vision loss. We encourage you to investigate these developments:

Neuroscientists Unveil Tech for the Vision Impaired: Bionic Eyes, Textured Tablets and More

There are many, many wearable and portable devices aimed at improving life for the blind and visually impaired (in some cases, even restoring vision). Such devices have been developed for pretty much every part of the body: fingers, wrists, abdomen, chest, face, ears, feet, even the tongue. The thing is—people don't want to wear them:

AI Hearing Aids Optimize Sound in Real Time

A software update is coming to an ear near you. Whisper, which develops AI-enabled hearing aids, just announced that they've rolled out the first software upgrade to their Whisper Hearing System, AI-powered hearing aids that improve over time:

RightHear Orientation App For The Blind — A Future Echo For Accessible Indoor Spaces

RightHear's technology pairs a smartphone app with strategically placed Bluetooth beacons or accessible spots to provide detailed and customizable audio wayfinding information for all manner of public indoor environments:

New Neuroscience-Driven Multisensory Technologies to Help the Vision Impaired

Learn about new research showing how feedback from digital haptics — using the sense of touch coupled with motion — enables the visually impaired to easily learn about new objects and spaces. It's just one way researchers are leveraging all the human senses to develop new technology for vision rehabilitation:

Using LiDAR technology to Help People with Vision Loss Navigate their Surroundings

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging.  Many companies right now are beginning to explore using some of the same kinds of technology used by driver-less vehicles, such as radar, lidar and ultrasonic, to give blind people a clearer sense of their surroundings. Similar to echolocation, which enables some people with vision loss to comprehend the surrounding spatial information through reflected sound, LIDAR sensors can obtain the spatial information of the user's surroundings and translate that spatial information into the stereo sound of various pitches. Here are a few links where you can learn more: