Mobile and Locative Sound
Recently, I came across an article from the Guardian about an electronic device that was developed by Microsoft in collaboration with Guide dog and Future Cities Catapult. Inspired by the concept of Soundscape, they developed a headset which is equipped with a GPS tracker, compass and gyroscope. Paired with a smartphone, it can be programed by using information from Microsoft Maps to guide through sound visually impaired pedestrians (Wainwright, 2014).
Behrendt (2012), states that while being on a move especially in busy environment, it is often challenging to keep checking on our device’s screen (284). For a blind person, the concept of soundscape presents quite a lots of advantage. This is because their inability to see means that they can fully rely on sound in order to be active and independent.
In their recent study about blind people and echolocation, Marlow and Brogard, 2015 discovered that visually impaired people have the ability to adapt their brain to see the world through the sound that surround them. On the other hand, Ward and Meijer discussed about the notion of Sensory substitution. They claim that by “converting visual information into auditory or tactile signals it is possible for the blind and visually impaired to acquire information about the world that is not normally accessible through audition and touch” (2010, p3).
In the context developed by Bull (2007) on the Ipod culture, he stated that the Ipod acts as “framing device, enabling a distinctive mode of auditory embodiment (pg 22). Therefore, it can be advised that integrating specific sounds to characterize different location using an Ipod or any other electronic device can help the visually impaired people to increase their mobility. As argued by Bull, they can engage and orientate themselves to the world and to themselves (2007, pg 22).
Behrendt, F. (2012) ‘The sound of locative media’, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 18(3), pp. 283–295.
Bull, M. (2007) Sound moves: IPod culture and urban experience. New York: Taylor & Francis, pg 1-23
Marlow, K. and Brogaard, B. (2015). The Blind Individuals Who See By Sound | DiscoverMagazine.com. [online] Discover Magazine. Available at: http://discovermagazine.com/2015/july-aug/27-sonic-vision [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].
Ward, J. and Meijer, P. (2010). Visual experiences in the blind induced by an auditory sensory substitution device. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(1), pp.492-500.
Wainwright, O. (2014). Headset provides ‘3D soundscape’ to help blind people navigate cities. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2014/nov/07/microsoft-headset-blind-3d-gps-guide-dogs