(New Scientist) People who have lived in the dark from birth have now found they don’t need their eyes to see. A new device developed by Amir Amedi from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and colleagues is giving congenitally blind adults the ability to interpret visual information from sound.

In this video, you can watch people listen to sounds that illustrate an object or a facial expression, then describe what they are “seeing”. The system can also be used to read by assigning sounds to letters.

A tiny camera is strapped to the user’s head and connected to a computer or smartphone. An algorithm converts images to sound, providing a depiction of an object via headphones. Sound dips higher or lower to represent the surface of a shape, allowing the person to form a representation in their mind. It took about 70 hours of training for a blind person to learn to describe a range of images.

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