This is a description of a walk that Dr. Peter Meijer the creator of the vOICe took on one of the first days of spring 2010. Note the description of texture. It is these kinds of descriptions that provide an insite to what can be experienced using the vOICe.
Today was the first really beautiful Spring day in The Netherlands, with lovely sunshine and an ideal temperature, and I decided to go outside in my garden at home wearing The vOICe with camera glasses.
Of course I am not blind, but it was an excellent occasion to get a sense of what is possible in a realistic (safe, home) environment.
I found it very enjoyable to be able to hear all the rich textures.
The brick wall of our neighbor’s house is up made of relatively dark stones with brighter cement, and the cement pattern thereby gave the very characteristic dense tonality of many horizontal lines. The brick wall of our own house is made up of white bricks with darker cement, also giving a tonality, but now with the added “white” noise.
A curious rise in pitch in this tonal sound took a second for me to realize that it was the shadow of our neighbor’s house cast on our white brick wall. Since one cannot touch shadows, such “anomalies”
would initially confuse blind users. Looking at the roof I heard the regular pattern made up of the rows and columns of stone roof tiles, at a slanted orientation and tapered due to visual perspective.
Looking down, the grass gave a smoother sounding texture than the stone gravel tiles of my terrace. Along the white brick wall I could hear the interruptions by the windows, with their wooden lining and horizontal and vertical “spokes”. Also very nice was the “V shape”
that I heard when looking at a corner of our house, as it was caused by the effect of visual perspective on the wooden window lining of the windows on both sides of the corner: quite helpful to know that one is looking at a corner. Our wooden fence gave a characteristic strong rhythm, and the foliage gave different types of swirly sounds for the somewhat random twigs, branches and leaves. The rich variation in textures made it fairly easy to know in which direction I was looking and where I was relative to the various structures. Distance could to some extent also be judged from the appearance of the visual textures.
I know that many (sighted) people dislike the sounds of The vOICe, but here the soundscapes did not bother me at all. It is as if the rich visual feedback provided by them for me suppresses that negative aspect. I once compared this phenomenon to learning to read, where at some point you enjoy a beautiful story or poem no matter how ugly the font is with which it is printed – you just don’t really “see”
the font anymore.
Anyway, just sharing today’s personal experience, and other people would undoubtedly have other experiences and opinions.