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Is There a Future for Sensory Substitution Outside Academic Laboratories?

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Sensory substitution devices (SSDs) have been developed with the ultimate purpose of supporting sensory deprived individuals in their daily activities. However, more than forty years after their first appearance in the scientific literature, SSDs still remain more common in research laboratories than in the daily life of people with sensory deprivation. Here, we seek to identify the reasons behind the limited diffusion of SSDs among the blind community by discussing the ergonomic, neurocognitive and psychosocial issues potentially associated with the use of these systems. We stress that these issues should be considered together when developing future devices or improving existing ones. We provide some examples of how to achieve this by adopting a multidisciplinary and participatory approach. These efforts would contribute not solely to address fundamental theoretical research questions, but also to better understand the everyday needs of blind people and eventually promote the use of SSDs outside laboratories.

Affiliations: 1: Center for Mind/Brain Sciences — CIMeC, University of Trento, Via delle Regole 101, 38060 Mattarello, Italy

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2014-11-11
2017-05-26

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