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Blind Navigation Game

October 18, 2012

A computer game that familiarizes blind people with the layout of a virtual building makes it easier to navigate the real thing.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Navigation for the blind…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Sounds of computer game)

A new virtual reality computer game helps blind people navigate in the real world. Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Lotfi Merabet and University of Chile computer scientist Jaime Sánchez designed the game, which uses audio cues to familiarize players with a real building. The idea was to see if blind players could build a spatial map in their minds while fighting off monsters and collecting jewels. Merabet says after the game, players navigated around the real-life building from memory just as well as other blind volunteers who received guided directions, and they found the building’s exits more quickly.

LOTFI MERABET (Harvard Medical School):

What you learn out of the game turns out to be much better in terms of problem solving.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

For more information, visit: https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044958

Listen to an excerpt from the game