The medical world has been revolutionized by technology again and again, yet even the smallest advancement is still able to surprise and delight us. National Geographic has drawn our attention to one app that provides the blind with an aural alternative to vision. EyeMusic SSD (sensory substitution device), an app for iOS devices, captures shapes in the environment and translates them into what the developers call a “Soundscape” through musical notes.

Visually impaired individuals with the app will be able to plug in headphones, hold their phones up in front of them and allow the camera to translate the image into sound, but it takes some training to learn how to “read” the music. For example, a smile might be heard as “a string of high notes descending and then ascending again,” while a frown would be the opposite. If you want to give the app a try yourself, it’s free to download on the App Store.