Thursday, May 31, 2012

Echolocation Trainer App for Android

For anyone interested in taking their echolocation training mobile, I've got the perfect thing for you!  

Echolocation Trainer Android app!  Watch the video:

This app is designed especially for people trying to learn echolocation or help a family member learn.  Of course all of the lessons on this blog are available in the palm of your hand, and new lessons will be available the instant they are published here, on the blog!   You can also stay in touch with me and share what you learn through the Facebook page.  I always love to hear how you are all learning echolocation, what you are using it for and what works best for YOU!  Let me know what you like and don't like about the app so that I can tailor my updates to your needs.

The Best Part of All

This is no ordinary blog app, no no no...  In order for you to really get into learning echolocation I've included a variety of echolocation beacons that are all available right in the app.  Signals you can play from the app:
  • White noise
  • Pink noise
  • Brown noise
  • Blade pop
  • Snap
  • Smack
  • 3ms clicks (computer generated click)
These sounds are actually quite useful if you can not make a good clicking sound on your own, some people use other clicking devices to help them train.  But I find that the white noise sample is actually very useful for me.  It adds a level of clarity to help me distinguish different objects.

Really the Best Part...

Let me know which beacon works best for you or if you would like any different signals added to the app in the future!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Learn Echolocation on Facebook and Google+

I just wanted to say thank you to all my loyal followers and other people who may stop by this blog to learn something new.  If you want to stay in touch a little bit better, consider following this blog on Facebook at:

I'm also on Google+

Keep the great comments coming and please let this be an opportunity for you to share what you've learned as well.
Thanks for all the support.  Enjoy echolocating!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Most Comprehensive Article on Echolocation from PlosBlogs Neuroanthropology

I have recently come across one of the most comprehensive articles on echolocation from the Neuroanthropology blog called: Getting around by sound: Human echolocation

This article is a great read for anyone interested in the subject.  It's several pages long and covers the following topics:

  • Famous echolocators
  • A video from 1941 depicting experiments in "Facial Vision" (another term for echolocation) ( )
  • How would echolocation feel?
  • Underestimating echolocation
  • Echolocating in a big magnetic tube
  • Listening to echoes
  • Why does echolocation use the ‘visual’ cortex?
  • Echolocation isn’t just in your head
  • So why can’t the rest of us echolocate?
  • Unmasking our other senses by blindfolding
  • The next step: super-human echolocation

This is an absolutely amazing article and it uncovers a lot of research that is not well known.  Below is a short snippet from the article.

  • Sensing is broader than perception
  • ; that is, our nervous system may react to many things that we are not consciously aware it is noting in any meaningful way.  Sensation is ‘bigger than’ consciousness (and I realize I’m using those terms loosely.).
  • Human echolocation highlights, again, that the anthropology of the senses needs to realize that the theory of ‘five senses,’ an idea that we really get from Aristotle it seems to me (although I have no interest in digging any deeper into the intellectual history of the concept), is a bit of cultural common sense and not at all a scientific approach or reflection of verifiable psychological or phenomenological reality.
  • Human echolocation is a capacity of any human being, but the extraordinary skill shown by exemplary practitioners like Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood requires much more than just a human nervous system and the right training: the skill requires a community that ‘gets it’ and supports the capacity.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Practice Echolocating in your Home - Is that Cheating?

A good thing about being in your own home when trying to learn echolocation is that you don't have to worry about annoying other people with a strange clicking sound and you can crash into things and no one will stare.  Lots of people ask, "Isn't it cheating if you already know your surroundings though?  If you're comfortable with the rooms and the obstacles in your house won't you just be navigating by memory?"


I say, no.  It's not cheating.  It's practicing.  It is a stepping stone on your way to bigger and better echolocation accomplishments.  To an extent, yes, you will be navigating somewhat by memory.  Having a general understanding of where things are and what to be cautious of in advance can detract from the sense of echolocation and the effectiveness of your training.

However, if you walk around your house echolocating and listening to echoes you don't generally listen for then you will be improving your skill.  You can actually use this to your advantage in some ways, because by knowing the shape of the room and location of the furniture, etc, you have a solid starting point.  You can say to yourself, "Okay.. this is what my kitchen sounds like when I click.  I know that it's about 10ft by 15ft and has a counter over... there.."  So there's a good solid starting point.  You can move around, knowing what is around you, but not quite knowing how those objects will register during echolocation.  As you move, picture the objects you know to be there, and then listen for how they sound. 

Careful though, if you simply walk around your house completely by memory, but making clicking noises, that still may not be effective learning.  It is critical that you exercise your ears and really focus on the sounds you hear and start getting more comfortable with the subtleties you'll notice at every doorway and every corner.

Take it to the next level

Once you get comfortable echolocating around your home, or you have become "calibrated" to your surroundings, have a family member or roommate change the location or orientation of some of the furniture.  This will help you avoid becoming complacent and will require that you are always alert and paying attention to the minute details of echolocation.

Another thing to try is opening a window or door and seeing how that effects your calibration.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beginner Echolocation Lesson #6 - Stationary Echolocating vs. Mobile Echolocating

It is generally more confusing to try to echolocate while walking or moving around as opposed to trying it while sitting or standing in one place.  This is because there are many more uncontrolled variables while moving around.  It's easier to maintain focus on a sound when there aren't so many things going on.

In any scientific experiment it is crucial to change only one variable at a time.  If you are walking around there may be objects around you that are changing the tone of the sound in ways you are not aware of.  If you sit in one place and change one variable it will be much easier to identify, and most importantly LEARN the differences in the sound.  In other words, if you hold up a flat object like a book or plate in front of your face, only one thing has changed about your environment.  If you change your location and walk up to a wall then many things have changed about your environment and it will be more difficult for you to distinguish between the different sounds and it might take you longer to see the effects of this lesson.

Remember, take it slow.  Keep it simple.  Have fun, and enjoy the journey!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Beginner Echolocation Lesson #5 - Realizing the Effects of Echolocation

This is a very quick and simple test you can do if you have never tried echolocation before and want to know where to begin.

It's all about subtleties

Echolocation is all about subtleties, and to understand subtleties, we must first start with what we know.
Start with a control sound.  This is your click.
Put yourself in an environment you are familiar with.  Pick a room in your house, maybe a small room like a bathroom or large closet.  Close the door and make the clicking sound.  Listen to the sound.  Don't listen for anything in particular, just listen.  Try to take in all of the elements of the sound and do it several times so that if you are familiar with it and you can anticipate what it will sound like the next time you do it.  This doesn't have to be a long time.  Just a few clicks while focusing and listening intently.  Now, immediately, go outside and get a good distance away from the building or any other large object and make the same clicking sound.

Did it sound like you expected it to?  Did it sound different than when you were in the bathroom?  If you answer yes, then you have experienced the effects of echolocation.

Why does it sound different?

The click sounds different to you because you are hearing it as it bounces off of the objects around you and comes back to your ear.  In the bathroom there are many more objects for the sound to bounce off of that are much closer to you.  This creates a "reverb" or very quick echo.  When you are not surrounded by objects the sound is much more "dead" meaning you hear it as it leaves your mouth and it does not return to you, hence it does not have the same reverb or echo qualities.

What's reverb?  Sounds complicated...

It doesn't matter if you don't know what reverb is.  The only thing that matters is that you realized that there is some sort of fundamental difference between the two sounds you made.  Once you realize that, honing your skill is just becoming increasingly aware of the subtleties in the sound.  If you can sense the difference between a bathroom space and outdoor space, then with practice, you can sense the difference between an object 5 feet away and an object 10 feet away.  Of course with an infinite amount of practice there is no limit to the differences you will be able to sense.

Enjoy!  And welcome to the wonderful world of echolocation.

Free 10-Minute Audio Lesson: Learn the Echolocation Click

Learn echolocation clicks with a free audio lesson
Learning how to click is one of the first steps to becoming an effective echoloator. This lesson provides clicking samples of a variety of different clicks and descriptions of when they might be most useful. This lesson has been used by O&M instructors all over the world.

Despite popular belief, it's easy to make your clicking quite subtle or unnoticeable even in quiet settings. There are many different clicks for different situations. I explain all of these in great detail and give examples of where, why and when they can and should be used.

Get your free lesson now:

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