What Would Sound Look Like

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Seeing the World Through Sound

For any being using sound to interact with its environment, how would that being interpret a 3D world? According to scientists, bats use more than just echos, but use Doppler information, too. Also, depending on the reflective surface, sound can detect texture, like ground-mapping radar. Both bats and humans (either blind from birth or later in life) actually use the visual cortex when interacting with objects using sound, and for humans, using touch, even when reading brail. So, there is something going on in the brain of beings interpreting sound and touch that uses spatial orientation.

Some graphic representations of ultrasonic vision (gleaned from various internet sources):

Source: /tg/ – Traditional Games – Homeless Mutant Quest 65 Crusty Jones (Scroll way down)

Note: cloth and weapons would give off very different textures, and be readily identifiable to a highly developed ear. Solid stairs and railing, walls and floors would provide good reflections, but carpets and tapestries would muffle some reflections. Acoustic ceiling tiles would be interesting…

Source: Shadowrun – Ultrasound Visual Reference

Depending on what was going on, sound sources would be detectable, but not necessarily interfere with the detection of the environment. Bats send out sounds in a very high frequency (they are able to vary that frequency over a decent range), and detect Doppler shifts in that sound to within a meter or less of distance or movement. Unless sending specific sounds in the same frequency, it can’t be jammed. Experiments trying to produce virtual objects have not currently been successful, as bats were able to detect and ignore the virtual objects.

Therefore, just as we have interpreted the world around us in three dimensions using the visible spectrum of light, there could be a 3D world of sound. Instead of using colour and saturation, sound would have movement and texture.

What Would Sound Look Like

Alpha Omega - Player Characters Mike_Owen