I’ve often bemoaned the fact that I’m not sufficiently experienced with vision to facilitate shape recognition. Over the past year or so, I have had access to a tiger embosser from View Plus Technologies which has allowed me to print images and feel them. Surprise, surprise! I was unable to identify what those images were without context. The same is the case when I look at images using the vOICe. The vOICe renders images in two dimensions just like what the tiger does. The resolution using the vOICe is higher and since I’m wearing a head mounted setup, I can use the vOICe to explore my environment immersively. There seem to be two conditions that facilitate shape and scene recognition. The first is historical experience so, if I have experienced a shape before, I’m able to identify what it is when I look at it again. Secondly, the scene has to match my mental map that I have built either using my kinesthetic awareness or some other means. This condition I experienced this condition firsthand when I was looking at a doorway using the fisheye lens with the video glasses. I was uncomfortable when I had the narrow angle view of the doorway. However, the moment I got the fisheye lens on the glasses, I was able to perceive both sides of the doorway which I knew would be there.
I am not too sure what this means for sensory substitution and learning how to use it effectively. In all probability, what this means is that experience and mental maps need to be stressed. The modality of information delivery is not as relevant as I thought it to be.