vOICe vision Africa (Pty)

vOICe vision Africa (Pty) Ltd launched a revolutionary audio vision solution for the blind in Umhlanga, South Africa in January 2020

vOICe vision Africa (Pty)

Seeing With Sound

vOICe vision Africa (Pty) Ltd launched a revolutionary audio vision solution for the blind in Umhlanga, South Africa in January 2020.

The device called vOICe vision, which comprises goggles and an installed camera and bone conduction earphones is able to make a significant difference to a blind person’s way of life. With the help of a vOICe vision device any blind person can learn to perceive space through sound, move around without assistance, and be socially active and independent.

vOICe vision Africa, Managing Director Musa Makhunga, explains, “vOICe vision is where blind people are able to see with sound.” The device was developed by Dutch engineer Peter Meijer, a former staff member of the Philips Corporation research department. He developed an algorithm of the sensory substitution of vision through sound. The device gives a sound image with up to several thousand pixels resolution, without dependence on the eye ailment’s condition and without any need for surgery.

The blind person can perceive space and objects through the sound signal received by the device as a result of encoding images from the camera. An app transforms the image into sound, which is perceived by the brain identically to the monochrome picture. The device can also vocalise text on signs and numbers of buildings, automatically or by manual control. It has features to identify and announce: objects’ colours, barcodes, and is able to name common objects in front of the camera.

According to the users’ reports the sounds of the device do not interrupt listening to sounds in the environment. You can control the volume of the device, and due to the bone-conduction earphones as ear canals are not blocked and natural echolocation continues taking place.

vOICe vision Africa offers training to blind people on the seeing with sound technique. Through training of an hour, three times a week, and practicing in between, it will take about three months for one to be competent and proficient with the technique. In order to use the device efficiently, three training options are offered.
1. vOICe vision goggles and online course with a trainer

An online basic course “vOICe sound vision” which consists of two stages:
• Development of perception through interaction with objects
• Development of orientation skills for inside and outside buildings.
2. vOICe Vision goggles and full-time course with a trainer

A basic course “vOICe sound vision” consists of two stages:
• Development of perception through interaction with objects and
• Development of orientation skills for inside and outside buildings.

3. vOICe Vision goggles and individual training

The basic course “vOICe sound vision” is conducted on an individual basis session with a trainer in the comfort of they own home. Each student gets an individual training plan and the most efficient set of exercises.

“If there were objects placed in front of me, I would have to feel with my hands until I found what I was looking for but with this device I can perceive objects in front of me (Gilbert Kowa, vOICe Vision Ambassador) “I found a way to trust myself and walk with confidence.

If you allow your body and sound to direct you, it helps you to walk with ease.” (Mathula Dlamini, vOICe Vision Ambassador).

“The biggest change that this device has made for me is to give me confidence not only in myself but in my surroundings. You don’t have to depend on sighted guides, and you can be as independent as anybody else.” (Des Pameswar, vOICe Vision Ambassador).

Life activities become possible
Musa Makhunga said, “I am hoping that as South Africans we will be able to get our people to use this device. Through taking advantage of the vOICe Vision technology we will be able to empower blind people. I am hoping that blind people will be able to participate more freely in a range of occupations and activities including sport through this device, that they were not able to do before.”

vOICe Vision can enable the following:
• Through using the device blind people can become more autonomous. By enhancing surroundings, self-sufficiency is increased and safe movement is ensured.

• vOICe Vision can also enhance professional activity and allow people to overcome limits, find interesting ways to earn a living, as well as develop talents… An inventor, an artist, a writer - all these professions become real.
• Sport also becomes a greater possibility which is always associated with overcoming yourself. vOICe Vision is a way to self-realisation and an opportunity to prove your personal excellence.
• A new profession has appeared - a sound vision trainer. Who can teach skills better than a blind person who already possesses it? A course which allows a person to learn a sound vision skill in only three months is now available.
• A hobby and self-realisation. Things like Latin dance and billiard game give us lots of life fulfilment, so why don’t we just keep doing what we like and become better at it?
• Blind people now travel even without sound vision, so imagine how many opportunities will open, when you are assured with safety and independence. With vOICe vision fear of new places fades away because the traditional way of perception becomes visual through sound.

vOICe Vision welcomes sponsors to provide the devices to deserving candidates as well as to assist with training fees.

Full Name of Company: vOICe vision Africa Pty Ltd (VV’A)
Nature of Business: vOICe vision Africa’s purpose is to offer visual-to-auditory sensory substitution devices and training.
Customer Base: General public

Director: Musa Makhunga
Professional Psychologist and Trainer:
Candice Saunders

Physical Address: 21 Zenith Drive 4319, Umhlanga, South Africa
Postal Address: P.O. Box 1711, Westville, 3630
Tel: +27 (0)31 566 1651

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