Echolocation is the method of interpreting sound that reflects off of surrounding objects in order to distinguish where and even what they are. It's like what dolphins, bats and whales use, but their frequencies are different than the ones we can detect. Sound is very similar to light in that it is a wave of energy that bounces off objects and reflects some properties of the object in the way that it bounces. We have detectors, called "ears", that interpret all of the sounds around us, however, most of us have not put to use our ability to "echolocate" using them. Many blind people utilize this tactic via listening to the reverberations of their own footsteps, or by making a clicking sound with their mouth.
What would be the good of having taste buds and just not bothering to use them?
Here's a pretty remarkable story of one kid, Ben Underwood, who is excellent at echolocation.
There is another man by the name of Daniel Kish who has done a lot of work to encourage blind people to use echolocation more effectively for navigation in everyday life. He has started a non-profit organization called World Access for the Blind, and promotes a "No Limits" approach to life for the blind. He leads blind people on hiking expeditions and even mountain biking. You can check out the website for the World Access for the Blind for more information.
Imagine if we all had the ability to echolocate. This is a big step towards putting one of our senses to greater use. What would be the good of having taste buds and just not bothering to use them? Isn't this what we've done? We have this power to use our ears as a backup to our eyes should we ever be in the dark, or end up without the use of our eyes.
I've been trying to learn this a bit myself and I'll keep a list of my findings here. I'm not sure how easy it will be for seeing people to accomplish this, but like anything, it's only a matter of desire to learn, dedication and practice.
Keep reading the rest of the articles for summaries of my findings and learnings as I go. Feel free to leave comments if you have any tips or want to share anything.