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Could whiskers help the blind to see ?

Posted on Tuesday, 6 November, 2012 | Comment icon 6 comments

Image credit: CC 3.0 AlexK100

Rats use their whiskers to help sense the world around them - could the same thing work for humans ?

Researchers conducted an experiment in which blindfolded volunteers had a plastic 'whisker' with position and force sensors attached to each hand. The volunteers were sat in a chair with two vertical poles located on either side of them and then asked to reach out and determine which of the poles was the furthest forward. As the experiment progressed the displacement between the poles was shortened until the volunteers were unable to distinguish any difference.

The results indicated that the volunteers had been able to get to grips with their new whisker sensors very quickly. "Both sight and touch are based on arrays of receptors that scan the outside world in an active manner," said Prof. Ehud Ahissar. "Our findings reveal some new principles of active sensing, and show us that activating a new artificial sense in a 'natural' way can be very efficient."

"Rats use a sense that humans don't: whisking. They move their facial whiskers back and forth about eight times a second to locate objects in their environment."

  View: Full article |  Source: Science Daily

  Discuss: View comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by highdesert50 on 6 November, 2012, 13:53
Could bring back the handlebar moustache with purpose!
Comment icon #2 Posted by Lava_Lady on 6 November, 2012, 17:43
Lol I don't think that will work for women.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Purplos on 6 November, 2012, 17:47
I'd rather be blind than look like a furry.
Comment icon #4 Posted by moonshadow60 on 6 November, 2012, 19:37
Some blind people use echolocation to navigate, so why not some adaptive device that mimics the function of whiskers? Come to think of it, doesn't the cane so many blind people use serve a similar purpose?
Comment icon #5 Posted by CuriousGreek on 27 November, 2012, 18:40
And how is that supposed to work with women?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Likely Guy on 27 November, 2012, 20:45
It doesn't work for men. I've got whiskers, I closed my eyes and walked into the wall.

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