RM Phillips Research Network

Seeing through Hearing and Touch

Professor Jamie Ward and Giles Hamilton-Fletcher's research is concerned with finding ways of representing information that normally relies heavily (e.g. depth) or solely (e.g. colour) on vision via their intact senses of hearing or touch. This research draws upon intuitive associations people make between the senses (e.g. high pitch and high spatial locations) to deliver detailed visual information in an easy to understand way. 

Science Museum stall showcasing vision into sound devices

Science Museum stall showing devices that turn luminance, depth and thermal information into sound

Our research explores how well users can identify shapes, distances and learn (or re-learn) the 'rules of vision.' In real environments we are looking to extend the users reach into space for effective navigation and hazard-avoidance. In the future we would also like users to explore virtual environments using these devices, either to prepare for visiting new locations or just to have fun with 3D exploration games.

Participants will be able to try out these devices to help us understand how visual information can be understood through other senses and to develop new technologies for everyday smartphones.

If you would like to participate in this research, or would like to know more about our projects, you can contact us at gh71@sussex.ac.uk or jamiew@sussex.ac.uk

Some of our sensory substitution devices have been displayed to the public during the recent 'Hack the Brain' and 'You Have Been Upgraded' events held at the London School of Economics and London Science Museum.

Recently we were featured on the BBC Click technology programme with one of our volunteers trying out one of our devices across a range of tasks - you can watch our segment on the programme at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=330C0VFcOZc

Vice magazine recently covered our work in creating new senses through technology - this can be found at the following link http://motherboard.vice.com/read/rewiring-the-brain-to-create-new-senses