The technology is a method for devising a sensory substitution device that replaces one sensory system by re-routing information normally captured by that sense to another functional sense. For example, for blindness, the Vibromat can present users with a 2D view of the world via a tactile display in the form of a wearable device.
The device itself has several components. The original Vibromat has 96 pager motors, which are each capable of vibrating at independent intensities, sitting on a mat strapped to someone's back. The motors vibrate in accordance to what's seen by a head mounted camera. In between that, is the software turning that image into vibration.
The technology is a computer implemented method for representing intensity levels from one sensory input to a second different sensory output. The sensory input could be visual such as via a camera (or auditory, ranging, gustatory, olfactory or vestibular perception). This could be translated into a second sense such as tactile or vibration and be able to discern changes in the region of interest – for example, objects and doorways that one might want to avoid, or detect moving objects ahead. The technology can also counter adaptation to the second type of sense over time by adjusting the vibration intensities of the device.
The technology can be implemented as wearable technology such as a vision enhancing wearable device. Or it could be extended to other areas including heavy industry and defence, by alleviating the information burden on a person's visual senses. Instead of visual cues from a camera the technology could also be made to function using other sensory input such as auditory, ranging, gustatory, olfactory or vestibular perception which could offer new applications outside of the vision domain.
CSIRO has patent protection for the technology.
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