I like being able to offer real-world examples of how the concept of echolocation is being implemented in our daily lives and in the technology around us. Submarines use echolocation to navigate and are essentially blind vehicles as I discussed in a previous post. I came upon another implementation of echolocation recently after my wife and I found out that we are going to be parents!
An ultrasound machine, used for creating images of unborn babies inside of the womb, uses the concept of echolocation to a large degree. Ultrasonic sound waves are emitted from a device into a woman's womb and the reflections of the sound are then analyzed by the machine and interpreted into an image that can be viewed on a screen. These images are a representation of tissue densities at certain depths. The thicker tissues reflect more sound and therefore create a different color on the screen. When all of these little finite bits of information are pieced together they make what is known as the ultrasound image.
If any of you have been witness to this first hand, you'll know that it's an incredible thing to see. A moving picture of your unborn baby.
This works in much the same way as echolocation. Millions of bits of information from reflected sound come into your brain and are processed to create an image. Fortunately for you, unlike the computer version of this, you don't actually have to do any math!! Your brain is able to calculate and interpret these findings in a completely natural way allowing you to get the same result without doing all the work that the computer has to do.