A teacher needed a device to help blind and partially sighted children to practice their ability to locate sounds.
A “hide and seek” device was produced packaged in a handy sized box, the SoundBox. A microcomputer in the SoundBox held 16 sounds in .mp3 files and 16 corresponding messages (.txt files). In use, the teacher hides the box and starts it making the selected sound repeatedly (e.g. a cat meowing). The children search for the box, locating it by sound alone, and pick it up. At this point, a movement sensor inside the box senses the movement and relays a verbal message produced by a speech simulator in the computer using the text file corresponding to the sound (e.g. “Well done, you’ve found me. What is the cat’s name?”). The process can then be restarted by the teacher. A 16 position switch on the front of the box allows selection of the various sounds. A volume control sets the loudness.
The unit could also be put into Carry mode, in which case the movement sensor is disabled so that the teacher can carry the unit and get the children to follow her.
The unit is powered by a mobile phone power block which is recharged using any mobile phone charger.
By giving the device its own e-mail address and using VNC Viewer, the teacher is able to access the unit from her laptop computer. She is then able to introduce replacement sounds which she may have downloaded from the internet or recorded on her mobile phone. She can also edit the message files to suit any new sound introduced.
Blind children can now learn to identify and locate different types of sound.