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Audio Aquarium Lets Blind See Fish

December 22 2008 | by

yellow fish

More cool inventions coming out of Georgia Tech, this time from the school’s Center for Music Technology. An “audio aquarium” is in the works that will help blind people experience marine life. It works by pairing fish and their movements with music via visual-recognition software that creates a symphony of sounds. To be sure, it’s not random music emanating from the fish tanks. Specialized software links each fish movement to different instruments that change in pitch and tempo as the fish patrol the tank. Fish that move toward the surface have a higher pitch. The faster they move, the faster the tempo. Georgia Tech scientists hope to install their invention in aquariums and zoos across the nation, including the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, the world’s largest. The technology can be extended to other platforms, and the team has used it to track ants and other animals. In a Boston.com article, associate Georgia Tech professor Bruce Walker summed up the efforts: “Many of the things we do help [people with disabilities] solve basic problems — shopping, working, brushing their teeth … There are very few assistive technologies that help them do the fun stuff.” This new soundstage has tremendous potential (as long as it doesn’t replicate that chilling theme song from Jaws)!

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