Innovation

DolphinView Glasses Use Echolocation To Understand Marine Environments

These glasses let you navigate the world like a dolphin.

“DolphinView” imitates dolphins by using LIDAR technology, which sends out tiny infrared beams that bounce off objects and come back.
Dolphins navigate in a very similar way by using echolocation. They emit clicks using a part of their jaw called the melon and use those sound waves to focus on objects around them.

“Of course we have no idea what a dolphin actually sees when they hear things so we don’t, kind of make inferences about it,” explained marine scientist and conservation consultant Andrew Thaler, PhD. “But we know they can detect objects, we know they can detect the thickness of an object. And beyond that we know that if you have a deaf dolphin they can’t navigate very well in the world.”

A small computer in the glasses calculates distance measurements and translates that into a series of pulses that can be heard through bone-conducting headphones. The blueprints are open-source so anyone can download them and make their own pair.

“As a marine conservationist, getting people to think about how animals might see the world. And especially how marine mammals see with sound. And then using that to talk about the fact that ocean noise increases because vessel traffic increases. So the ocean is a very, very noisy place now, whereas 100 years ago, it wasn’t,” said Dr. Thaler.”