[AI] Bats to teach visual techniques to blind
vishnuhappy at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 11 03:13:17 EST 2008
Bats to teach visual techniques to blind
London, Feb 10: Blind children in Britain will be
taught a revolutionary echo-location technique copied
from bats, in an attempt to help them visualise
The visually impaired kids will be able to build up a
mental library of images of the world around them by
clicking their tongue and interpreting the sound
as it echoes back.
The technique, which is used by bats, dolphins and
whales to find the way and hunt in the dark, is being
piloted in Glasgow, where 10 children aged five
to 17 are being taught by staff from the charity
Recent studies have shown that blind people can use
their advanced hearing to understand reflected sound
as the distance, size and density of objects around
Leading paediatric ophthalmologist Professor Gordon
Dutton has supported the technique and wants it to be
taught to the 385,000 blind and partially sighted
people in Britain.
"It's very exciting. I have seen echo-location being
used it's quite stunning, Times Online quoted
Dutton, of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in
Glasgow, as saying.
"Of course there will be scepticism and doubt, but the
benefits are without question. It will make a massive
difference to the lives of blind and visually
impaired people, he said.
Echo-location was pioneered in the US, where blind
people have been able to differentiate between people,
trees, buildings and parked cars by the pitch
and timbre of the echo they produce.
They have even been able to determine the height,
density and shape of objects up to 100ft away.
The project in Glasgow was launched after a year-long
visit by Dan Kish, a 41-year-old man from California
who established the technique and uses it to
ride a bike and even distinguish different types of
fruit on trees.
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