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Saru

Can humans 'see' using echolocation ?

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A team of researchers has developed an echolocation system that could enable a person to see using sound.

Birds do it. Bats do it. Now even educated people do it. Echolocation is the process used by certain animals to identify what lies ahead of them, by emitting sounds that bounce off objects.

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I use it all the time.

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this tech has been around for quite a while.

i saw a system a few years ago that enabled a blind downhill biker to navigate a downhill course without hitting any obstacles whatsoever.

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this tech has been around for quite a while.

i saw a system a few years ago that enabled a blind downhill biker to navigate a downhill course without hitting any obstacles whatsoever.

Tech is not necessary if you're used to doing it.

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Tech is not necessary if you're used to doing it.

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believe me, you can't get used to a downhill course, they're dangerous places for the fully sighted (i've had several broken bones to attest that!), and outright suicide for the blind!

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believe me, you can't get used to a downhill course, they're dangerous places for the fully sighted (i've had several broken bones to attest that!), and outright suicide for the blind!

I wasn't referring to that so much, just echolocation in general.

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ah. ok.

it's easy enough for a blind person to "see" inside their own homes, they build very sophisticated mental maps in their minds of where everything is, but a sighted person trying to move around their house in the dark will spend most of their time bumping into stuff and cursing the gods!

the guy in question wasn't blind from birth, but developed blindness, and downhill racing was a passion of his. when he was no longer able to continue, this naturally depressed him until a team of scientists came up with the system (it was very rudimentary- it fitted onto a pair of glasses and sent out sound pulses, which were fed back into each ear to give a sense of direction, and faster/slower pulses to indicate the range of objects), which he trialled. the was sent down the course, doing a reasonable speed, and the look of sheer joy on his face when he reached the bottom was a real joy to behold! he'd gone from a state of depression at not being able to do something he loved, something he thought he'd never do again, to a state of rapture! his quality of life improved immensely, and i'm not saying it would work for everyone, but even to improve the wellbeing of just one person made the whole thing worthwhile!

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ah. ok.

it's easy enough for a blind person to "see" inside their own homes, they build very sophisticated mental maps in their minds of where everything is, but a sighted person trying to move around their house in the dark will spend most of their time bumping into stuff and cursing the gods!

the guy in question wasn't blind from birth, but developed blindness, and downhill racing was a passion of his. when he was no longer able to continue, this naturally depressed him until a team of scientists came up with the system (it was very rudimentary- it fitted onto a pair of glasses and sent out sound pulses, which were fed back into each ear to give a sense of direction, and faster/slower pulses to indicate the range of objects), which he trialled. the was sent down the course, doing a reasonable speed, and the look of sheer joy on his face when he reached the bottom was a real joy to behold! he'd gone from a state of depression at not being able to do something he loved, something he thought he'd never do again, to a state of rapture! his quality of life improved immensely, and i'm not saying it would work for everyone, but even to improve the wellbeing of just one person made the whole thing worthwhile!

Sounds like a really good development then.

It's not just a mental map. Those blind from birth also use echolocation to navigate unfamilar places (some are better than others at it, though). It works by clicking the toungue. It's possible to get an idea of one's surroundings up to about 10 metres.

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Posted (edited)

Tech is not necessary if you're used to doing it.

Quite correct. For those that are not aware, there are people who use echolocation at a masterful level in their everyday lives for orientation and judging the position of nearby and even remote objects. Anyone can learn it. Like "the boy who sees without eyes" on Extraordinary People. Nothing new to see here people, it's all been done before.

Edited by Saru
Removed video link due to copyright

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Sounds like a really good development then.

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if it improves the quality of life for the blind, it can only be a good thing!

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It works by clicking the tongue. It's possible to get an idea of one's surroundings up to about 10 metres.

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with the ears & throat being connected, wouldn't clicking the fingers work better? it might negate the possibility of masking/feedback and make the system a little more sensitive....?

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with the ears & throat being connected, wouldn't clicking the fingers work better? it might negate the possibility of masking/feedback and make the system a little more sensitive....?

No the tongue definitely works best.

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We can do this already!! We don't need technology to do it for us. Three blind people have learned to do this already. My theory is that we have to be aware that we can do it and then activly practice trying to do it. Then eventually the unconscious parts of our mind will eventually notice the reacurring patterns in sound and will develop a type of mapping. I've seriously considered trying to do it and blog about it

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We can do this already!! We don't need technology to do it for us. Three blind people have learned to do this already. My theory is that we have to be aware that we can do it and then activly practice trying to do it. Then eventually the unconscious parts of our mind will eventually notice the reacurring patterns in sound and will develop a type of mapping. I've seriously considered trying to do it and blog about it

Not just three. Almost everyone who is born blind does this. It is something that comes naturally.

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Not just three. Almost everyone who is born blind does this. It is something that comes naturally.

Well maybe so but obviously science doesn't know this because we wouldn't be developing technology to do this for us then

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Or the technology is being developed for people who weren't born blind but become blind later.

Or it makes the ecco location sharper

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Or the technology is being developed for people who weren't born blind but become blind later.

Or it makes the ecco location sharper

Yes, that's exactly right.

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I remember watching a documentary about blind people riding bikes and such by using echolocation. I can't remember the details, but they mainly used hand-held clickers so they wouldn't have to occupy their mouths and could tell if they were near an object or not. With a bit of familiarity with the area and common sense they could identify trees, walls, bushes, people and such.

It's probably some genetic remnant our bodies have kept just in case we ever need to use it again.

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