I've thought up some cool twists on this basic idea that I think could make it very useful. The idea itself doesn't require any science fiction any more; it is completely possible based on current technology. I've done a bit of research into what's currently available for the blind and everything I found was very paltry and crappy; I can't find links to current research being done. It seems pretty obvious (and apparently Varley thought of it long before it was practical), but is it being done?
I know that some of the students I had lunch with at WWDC this year were working in this general field, and I suspect some blog-readers may know a lot more about this than I.
My question for you is, do you know what state-of-the-art is for helping the completely blind form an image of the world around them? Obviously, I may have hit on an idea that others have already explored, and either discarded or already marketed. Also, it may be I'm trying to solve a problem that doesn't need a solution; maybe there isn't a lot of interest in conveying general environment images to the blind, and specialized devices (screen-readers, sonar obstacle finders) are more practical. I think I would want such a device if I lost my vision; I could easily imagine going out for walks with such a thing.
Also, does anyone know of an matrix of poking rods that's already been developed, regardless of whether it's been used for the blind? That is, something I could experiment with.
Labels: random ideas