On August 21, 2017, millions of people will get the chance to see the total solar eclipse as it passes through the United States. However, not everyone will be able to enjoy it. Those of us with impaired or no vision will certainly miss out on this great spectacle, or will we? As Apple adds use to say, “There’s an app for that.” No, seriously!
The app, called Eclipse Soundscapes, aims to give it’s users “a multisensory experience of this exciting celestial event.”
From the App Store
The Eclipse Soundscapes Project app is specially designed so that people who are blind and visually impaired can share in the awe and wonder of astronomical events in real time with their sighted peers. The app is a joint effort between The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium (HEC), the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), and the National Park Service (NPS). Features include an interactive “Rumble map”; audio descriptions of key features of the eclipse; a play-by-play description of the total solar eclipse as it is happening in the user’s area; and a countdown clock to the next upcoming eclipse. The “Rumble Map” gives the user the sensation of “feeling” the Sun during an eclipse. Our technology translates images of key eclipse features into a series of unique frequency modulated tones that map out variations in light and dark as the user explores the image with their fingertips. These tones are specially designed to make the user’s mobile device shake, or rumble, in response to the changes. After the eclipse, the Eclipse Soundscapes app will provide access to a database of soundscape recordings from U.S. National Parks and other urban and rural locations so that users can experience how eclipses change the behavior of different species, including humans. During the next five years, the app will expand to include other eclipses and astronomical objects of interest giving people who are blind and visually impaired – and everyone else – a new way to engage with the universe around them.
You can find out more about the Eclipse Soundscapes project here.
I’m really excited to see an app like this because I’ve always had an interest in what events like this looked like. I can’t wait to use it during the eclipse. I think it’s going to be a really neat experience! Don’t you?
Let us know what you think.