The night before last, I was thinking about my grandfather, who has gone blind in the last couple of years, and was struck with an idea: what if you took a small sonar system, hooked it up to a handheld computer and two earphones, and created a computer program that would encode the sonar signals into a meaninful map of the physical world around you? I imagined what a huge difference this would make for the blind around the world, I imagined how it would be developed, and even how the business model would work. I named my 'company', thought through its development. I imagined the engineering and design problems that would be faced: ''what information would be important to convey and what to ignore? How long would it take to learn? etc...'' I wasn't able to sleep for about 3 hours after I went to bed. Ah, but a simple Google search finds that I am not the first to think of such an idea. Alas.
I know that libraries in Oregon (through the State Library) have some sort of special device for recorded books for the blind. Not sure how similar or different it is to books on tape...
by Kate Rubick on 09/14/04