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Computer algorithm uses echoes to create 'virtual' room maps

June 18, 2013 at 6:22 PM   |   Comments

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, June 18 (UPI) -- A new computer algorithm that can give humans the ability to map their environments with sound could lead to an app to aid blind people, Swiss researchers say.

Some animals such as bats, whales and dolphins use echolocation -- emitting a sound and listening to the echo -- to create a mental map of their environment, and some blind people have learned to use finger snaps or tongue clicks to create a rough equivalent, they said.

Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne say technology and the new algorithm could be used to produce a more accurate sound experience in spaces, Discover News reported Tuesday.

A person's whereabouts could be revealed via an echolocation app on a smartphone, researcher said, down to the very room they occupy, since every room has a unique audio signature, they said, with the technology creating a sort of hyper-localized audio GPS.

"Our software can build a 3-D map of a simple, convex room with a precision of a few millimeters," researcher Ivan Dokmanic said.

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