15 Mar 2005
I decided on today’s word after reading a thought provoking article at Wired.com. The article is titled The Blind Fragging the Blind and its about video games for blind gamers. I was surprised by the nature of the games. The games are very sophisticated including a purely audio version of the first person shooter Quake and of all things, a driving game. BSCGames.com offers many games designed for the blind and visually impaired. They also offer several sound trailers if you want to learn what an all audio gaming experience sounds like.
So today term is echo location. It is a technique that uses sound instead of sight to determine the location and in some cases the size of objects. Echolocation is used by some animals including bats and dolphins although they us sound frequencies that can not be heard by human ears.
Human echolocation is used by some blind people.
We have all probably walked through a large empty room and heard the sound of our foot steps echo off the distant walls. Even with our eyes closed we would know we were in a large room and as we approached a wall we would notice the changing sounds of the echos. This is echolocation.
I imagine video games designed for blind and visually impaired players take advantage of the echo location phenomenon to orient the player in his or her environment.