The Topo-Speech Algorithm: An intuitive Sensory Substitution for Spatial Information

Benedetta Heimler, Amir Shur, Ophir Netzer, Tomer Behor, Amir Amedi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Is it possible to quickly and reliably understand the position of objects in space without vision? This is one of the biggest challenge blind people face daily. We developed a novel algorithm called the Topo-Speech which conveys the spatial position of objects via speech manipulations. We ran a pilot study on blindfolded sighted adults (n=5) to test the extent to which users can locate objects' spatial positions after short training with the Topo-Speech, as well as their ability to locate untrained spatial positions. Participants were trained for ~30 minutes on the detection of objects' positions on a 3×3 grid. Then they were tested on the same spatial locations (though using different stimuli). Finally, participants were tested on identifying the positions of objects on a 5×5 grid (i.e. additional spatial locations) without any specific training. Our results showed that participants performed significantly above chance for both trained and untrained spatial positions. This in turn suggests the feasibility of the Topo-Speech to convey spatial related information via a non-visual channel and prompt to quickly test such approach with people who are visually impaired.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICVR 2019 - International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781728112855
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event2019 International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR 2019 - Tel Aviv, Israel
Duration: 21 Jul 201924 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR
ISSN (Electronic)2331-9569


Conference2019 International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR 2019
CityTel Aviv

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 IEEE.


  • accessibility
  • blindness
  • sensory substitution
  • spatial processing
  • vision rehabilitation
  • visual impairment


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