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A soundscape is a landscape or 'the lay of the land' about a user, represented not by visual objects, but rather by sounds. A complex and intricate mix of tones and pulses to provide an artificial sense of echolocation typically to a human user.
Generally used as a replacement for vision for users whose actual vision is extremely weak or non-existent, it takes a good amount of training to be able to recognise shapes and shadows from a soundscape. However, since the visual cortex is typically not being utilised in those with effective blindness, a soundscape interface is usually able to take advantage of this relatively unused section of the brain, working with rather than against the brain's plasticity to restore a sense of sight after a fashion to a user.
The soundscape interface typically bears a great deal in common with an augmented reality's visual interface, with multiple cameras intercepting visual information on a framework around the eyes. However, instead of feeding stereoscopic augmented data to the eyes which effectively don't work in the blind person, this information is converted into an audio representation of the landscape that is fed into the ears as a binaural sound. This utilises the fact most people have two ears, and their relative placement on the head to recreate a 3D environment around the user.
Because of the relatively high training requirements to use a soundscape, it is generally not suitable as an interface a virtual reality, unless the person is already used to soundscapes for navigating the physical world. In these cases, it is an ideal way to represent the virtual landscape as well, rendering it functionally identical to navigating the physical world, for the user.
See Also: Soundscape Interface, Sensory Substitution Device, Augmented Reality, Stereoscopy, Virtual Reality, Binaural, Binaural Sound, Sensory Immersion, world space, View Space, Sonification, Auditory Localization
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