I met a researcher in sensory substitution the other evening. We were discussing the vOICe and he commented that he did not realize it could give so much information. This post is to address that gap. Yes, for years, I have been telling people how the vOICe works but I have perhaps not explained the functional benefits of the schema and the kinds of questions a user can answer when she uses this program.
|What it does
|Horizontal panning or time
|Allows me to see where objects are in a left to right orientation or the other way round if you prefer. E.G. I can determine if a glass is on my left or on my right.
|the pitch maps to height
|Allows me to distinguish if I am looking at a set of pans on my dining table or at a stack of plates or find the backs of chairs and or sofas
|volume is mapped to brightness
|Answer several questions like Are the lights on? (incredibly handy if your bedroom has two-way switches; is it sunrise or sunset? Am I going to collide with a lit stove?
If we put the above attributes together, you can gather a surprising amount of information about what is around you. Some questions you will be able to answer are:
- Is the object I am looking rough or smooth? Yes, you can determine texture. Does the wall in front of me have texture paint? Are there pebbles at the bottom of this stream?
- Am I looking into a well? (Estimating distance accurately is difficult)
- Is that object with bars on it a Window?
- Is there writing on this whiteboard?
- What is the pattern on this piece of fabric?
- What do those fireworks look like?
- How does uncle Bob look in this photo? (You may not be able to detect the exact expression on uncle Bob’s face without a lot of image cleanup but will get an idea of his shape)
- Is the person in front of me clean shaven?
- What is the hairstyle of the cute lady on my right?
- Do I live on a tree lined street?
- What does that sword / insert sculpture of choice behind the glass case in that museum look like?
- How do the sun, flowing water and the grass look when viewed from this angle?
- Is the vegetation thinning in this endless forest?
- Is my food about to boil over?
- Is that a staircase on my left or in front of me?
- How do I find my way between these filing cabinets?
- Am I in an open space and seeing the sky perhaps?
Vision is contextual therefore you will be able to answer these questions and many more depending on how much you practice and how aware you are of your surroundings.
I am happy to add other questions you can answer to this list so add them to the comments or send them to me.