Washington: Researchers at the University of Bath have developed a device that can help blind people use sounds to build an image of the things happening around them in their mind. The voice sensory substitution tool, that instructs the brain to turn sounds into images, could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for blind and partially-sighted people.

The team of researchers, led by Dr Michael Proulx, from the University's Department of Psychology, looked at how blindfolded sighted participants responded to an eye test using the device.

They were asked to perform a standard eye chart test called the Snellen Tumbling E test, which asked participants to view the letter E turned in four different directions and in various sizes. It was found that the participants, even without any training in the use of the device, were able to perform the best performance possible.

This limit appears to be the highest resolution currently possible with the ever-improving technology."This level of visual performance exceeds that of the current invasive techniques for vision restoration, such as stem cell implants and retinal prostheses after extensive training," Proulx said.