I had a chance to play with the K-Sonar at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). I spent about 15 minutes with the device. I like the mode where it sounds like a machine gun that is, I get rapid clicks. I was able to move around and the looming effect when I was going to collide with an obstacle is superb.
I naturally began to compare it with the vOICe. Yes, I am comparing apples and oranges since sensory substitution is different from sonar but I took the perspective of both being used for navigation. I found the vOICe to be significantly richer in giving me information about what is around me. Obstacle detection though is something you have to get used too. There is no looming effect and the shape of the obstacle just fills the view. I wish the vOICe could have the looming feature since I would get the best of both worlds. It is nice to know that I am going to collide with something but when using sonar, I don’t know what that thing is.
Other than that my familiarity with soundscapes came in handy since I was able to use the K-Sonar without any training. The researchers were amazed. Other users had not liked the device at all and found it useless.
The form factor is nice in terms of size but it is a bit fat for my palm. I wish the attachment to slide it on to the cane was detachable.
I found your blog through hellenjc, who mentioned it on mine. I’m so interested to hear of your experiences! I’m legally blind myself and have just dipped my toe in the waters of technological aids for the visually impaired. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your posts!
Heeru Fernandes says
Pranav, I tried testing the Voice by looking at an example on the website, and the image absolutely did not make sense to me, the sounds I mean. Do the glasses make that much of a difference, and how do you figure out an image through sound?
Pranav Lal says
The glasses help when you are moving. You can start by looking at static images. In terms of learning the vOICe, you need to grab the tutorials page from the http://www.seeingwithsound.com website. The thing about the sound schema that you need to remember is the mapping of the image to sound. This is as follows.
1. The sound pans from left to right. This represents the horizontal view so objects on your left are sounded in your left ear while objects on your right are sounded in your right ear.
2. The pitch of the sound represents height. The higher the pitch, the higher the object.
3. The volume of the sound represents brightness. The louder the sound the brighter the object.
Try looking at simple shapes. Before getting the glasses, you could start with an ordinary webcam. Hold your fingers in front of the webcam and see what happens. Start with other simple shapes like squares, rectangles, lines etc. Look at the computer keyboard. CCan you feel the bumps that are the keys?