New technology can help blind people hear, feel solar eclipse

Those who are blind or visually impaired will be able to hear and feel the solar eclipse on April 8.

Those who are blind or visually impaired will be able to hear and feel the solar eclipse on April 8.

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For public gatherings for the upcoming solar eclipse, south and touch devices will be available, according to The Associated Press.

The LightSound box can translate light into sound so that people can hear and feel the eclipse.

The LightSound device was created in 2017 by Allyson Bieryla, a Harvard University astronomer, according to The New York Times. She worked with Wanda Díaz-Merced, an astronomer who is blind and used to work with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Bieryla and Díaz-Merced created the device. The director of Harvard’s science demonstration lab, Daniel Davis, created a prototype, the newspaper reported. It is about the size of a paperback novel. It used a light sensor to measure the brightness of the sky. Then a code on a microcontroller board to make lux ranges. Then a synthesizer board makes flute sounds for “intense light.” A clarinet is used to as light fades. A clicking noise is used for darkness.

Those using the LightBox can either use headphones or the device’s speaker, the Times reported.

“The sky belongs to everyone. And if this event is available to the rest of the world, it has to be available for the blind, too,” said Díaz-Merced, according to the AP. “I want students to be able to hear the eclipse, to hear the stars.”

The solar eclipse will take place in 15 U.S. states on April 8. Around 31 million people will be able to see it.

The totality, or the moment the sun is blocked out by the moon, will first reach Del Rio, Texas, at 1:27 p.m. CDT and then trace a line across the state and northeast across the country. Totality will last from a few seconds to about 4.5 minutes depending on where you are along the path.

The total eclipse will begin in Texas and travel into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The eclipse will also be seen in some areas of Tennessee and Michigan.

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