As part of its work on Vision Processing for Prosthetic Vision, Data61 is developing a tactile vibration sensory substitution device known as the VibroMat. The mat has 96 pager motors, which are each capable of vibrating at independent intensities. Sensory substitution devices replace a lost sensory system by re-routing information normally captured by that sense to another functional sense. For blindness, the VibroMat can present users with a 2D view of the world via a tactile display.
Data61 has developed vision processing technologies for prosthetic vision that have shown success with patients implanted with a retinal prosthetic device. In this project, Data61 is investigating applying and further developing these technologies for sensory substitution devices. Further, we are investigating how people perceive such stimulus, to understand the ways in which our vision processing technologies can best present information to users.
The VibroMat is targeted as a non invasive visual prosthetic device that will assist people with vision loss with a range of tasks. We are also interested in how such a device can be used to provide additional sensory cues in other scenarios, such as providing warnings in hazardous situations.