Vibrating Clothes Could Help Blind People Navigate: Page 2


Studies show that visually impaired people use parts of the brain that are normally used for vision to process auditory input, which suggests that the brain is inherently plastic -- it continually adapts and forms new neural connections. The Eyeronman users would make use of this plasticity to train themselves to use the device.

Just as the deaf-blind author and political activist Helen Keller was able to understand the concept of water by feeling it while having it spelled on her hand, a blind person could walk past a table and feel it by vibration, Rizzo said.

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Ever heard a recording of yourself and hated the way you sound? It's a common thing, and has to do with sound vibration ... or the lack thereof.
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The patent-pending Eyeronman system could also be used by soldiers in combat, police or firefighters, who may have limited vision at night or due to smoke from fires or explosions, according to the company's website.

Some people have created similar devices, Rizzo said, but no one has created a platform that detects the shape of objects and displays them on the body like his team's invention does.

Right now, the system is still in the prototype phase. The researchers have developed a version that displays the sensor input to the shirt by lighting up LEDs, instead of producing vibration, but the principle is the same, Rizzo said.

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Not all of the sensors will work ideally in all environments, so the researchers need to determine which ones work best and figure out how they can be made inexpensively, he said.

"There are lots of challenges, but I don't think any are to the point where we can't get on top of them," Rizzo said.

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