vOICe glasses let the blind see through sound

Technology may one day eliminate blindness altogether, but cybernetic eyes are likely decades away. Until the cyborg age begins, the blind may still be able to get a view of their surroundings with a new system called vOICe (as in "oh-I-see"), which gives the user an auditory "picture" of what she's looking at. The system includes a laptop connected to a special pair of sunglasses fitted with a small camera in the bridge and stereo headphones near the ear hooks. Scanning left to right once every second, the cam feeds the visual data to the computer, which translates the field of view into audible sounds. For example, louder sounds means bright colors while a higher pitch means an object is located up high. It apparently takes some getting used to — people that have used it say it's like learning a foreign language — but with practice one blind woman said she could discern walls, stairs, and windows in a room. No word of if she could do any ninja-kicking, so maybe that's to come in vOICe 2.0. Just as with any new gadget, portability is a big issue, since anyone using the system needs to carry around a bulky laptop. Well, at least until the smartphone version comes out.

Via Damn Interesting