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An experimental system for the conversion of images into sound patterns was designed to provide auditory image representations within some of the known limitations of the human hearing systems possibly as a step towards the development of a vision substitution device for the blind. The application of an invertible (one-to-one) image-to-sound mapping ensures the preservation of visual information. The system implementation involves a pipelined special-purpose computer connected to a standard television camera. A novel design and the use of standard components have made for a low-cost portable prototype conversion system with a power dissipation suitable for battery operation. Computerized sampling of the system output and subsequent calculation of the approximate inverse (sound-to-image) mapping provided the first convincing experimental evidence for the preservation of visual information in sound representations of complicated images.
Date of Publication: Feb. 1992