‘Revolutionary’ device could replace surgery for blind

8 July 2013
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
The vOICE device being used by a study participant

The vOICE device being used by a study participant

A "revolutionary" device that helps people use sounds to build images in their brain could replace invasive treatment for the blind.

The vOICe sensory substitution device, developed by Dr Peter Meijer of The Netherlands, helps blind people  turn sounds into images, allowing people to create a picture of the things around them.

And following new research a team 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 and 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, says: "This level of visual performance exceeds that of the current invasive technique for vision restoration, such as stem cell implants and retinal prostheses after extensive training.

"A recent study found successful vision at a level of 20/800 after the use of stem cells. Although this might improve with time and provide the literal sensation of sight, 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."

The vOICe works by converting live camera views from a video camera into soundscapes through video to audio mapping by associating height to pitch and brightness with loudness in a left-to-right scan of any video frame.

Views are typically refreshed about once per second with a typical image resolution of up to 60 x 60 pixels.

In the tests, participants were asked to perform a standard eye chart test called the Snellen Tumbling E test, in which the letter E is viewed in different directions and sizes.

Normal, best-corrected visual acuity is considered 20/20, calculated in terms of the distance in feet and the size of the E on the eye chart.

The participants, even without training, were able to achieve the best performance possible, nearly 20/400. This limit appears to be the highest resolution currently possible with the technology.

The vOICE’s inventor Dr Meijer, Alastair Haigh and Dave Brown of Queen Mary University of London also took part in the research.

'How well do you see what you hear? The acuity of visual-to-auditory sensory substitution' is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Control System Engineer

    United Utilities
    • Lancaster, Lancashire
    • Up to £33415 + Comprehensive Benefits

    Provide ICA maintenance and engineering support to the Water & Wastewater Production

    • Recruiter: United Utilities

    Apply for this job

  • Signal Processing Engineer

    B&W Group
    • Steyning, West Sussex
    • Competitive Salary

    We are looking for a Signal Processing Engineer to support the R&D process on active loudspeaker products.

    • Recruiter: B&W Group

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

    De Montfort University
    • Leicestershire
    • Grade G: £36,672 - £46,414 per annum

    Join the Projects Team to develop and manage medium to large projects on the university estate.

    • Recruiter: De Montfort University

    Apply for this job

  • Advanced Commissioning Engineer

    National Grid
    • Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, England
    • £46000 - £57000 per year

    National Grid is at the heart of energy in the UK. The electricity we provide gets the nation to work, powers schools and lights everyone's way home. Our energy network connects the nation, so it's essential that it's continually evolving, advancing and i

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Oxford Instruments
    • Yatton, Bristol
    • Competitive salary plus excellent benefits

    We are looking for an electrical designer to join our engineering design team.

    • Recruiter: Oxford Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Skilled Electrical Fitter

    MBDA
    • Bolton
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   The Electrical Fitter will carry out manufacturing and test tasks within the electrical department in accordance with product certification procedures, defined workmanship  ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Manufacturing Technician

    MBDA
    • Stevenage
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   As a qualified craftsman with experience in electrical manufacturing, the Manufacturing Technician will report to a Team Leader, receiving day to day ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power)

    BAE Systems
    • Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness, England
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power) Would you like to play a key role in providing technical direction to the design of power systems on the Successor class submarines, which will replace the current Trident-equipped Vanguard class, currently in servic

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Electrician

    The Bristol Port Company
    • City of Bristol
    • C. £31,729 per annum plus supplements, benefits and overtime

    You’re a good team worker with a strong technical capacity – so bring your talents to a new role with one of the area’s leading employers.

    • Recruiter: The Bristol Port Company

    Apply for this job

  • Supply Restoration Team Manager (HV/SAP)

    SSE
    • Oxford, Oxfordshire
    • Salary: £37,588 to £49,645 + Car (SSE8) Depending on skills and experience

    SSE is looking to recruit a Supply Restoration Team Manager to join our existing team in Oxford.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T