There's an app to help the blind 'see' the upcoming eclipse - KMOV.com

There's an app to help the blind 'see' the upcoming eclipse

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Eclipse Soundscapes. Credit: KMOV Eclipse Soundscapes. Credit: KMOV
SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -

It almost sounds like a brain-buster, how can someone blind see the upcoming eclipse?

A team of astrophysicists decided to do something to answer that question.

"I just stood there with my mouth open looking dumb because everything I had to say was visually-based," said Dr. Henry "Trae" Winter.

Dr. Winter works for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

He told News 4 his difficulty describing an eclipse to one of his blind colleagues led to his latest project, an application that does just that.

"We wanted people who are blind and visually-impaired to have that same sense of awe as everyone else," said Dr. Winter

Dr. Winter and his team, backed by a grant from NASA, spent four months developing "Eclipse Soundscapes".

The app knows precisely when the eclipse will start and how long it will last, wherever you are, and when the time comes, it launches a real-time audio description of the cosmic show.

"I just don't want people being left out. I don't like that at all," said Dr. Winter.

The app also features a "Rumble Map", allowing users to feel and hear the phenomena as your fingers press against pictures of previous eclipses. 

Dark areas like the moon, are nearly silent with soft vibrations.

Meanwhile, wisps of sunlight peeking out behind the moon emit higher hums with more intense tremors.

Touching even brighter parts produces even higher frequencies, an experience Dr. Winter says users seem to enjoy.

"Their faces just light up," said Dr. Winter. "They're not used to having things made for them."

The free app has been downloaded over 15,000 times since it launched last Thursday, with plenty more expected as the eclipse draws near and the Android-version still yet to be released.

The Missouri Council of the Blind will be using Eclipse Soundscapes during an eclipse viewing party in south St. Louis.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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