(CNN)On holiday in Iceland a few years ago, Pranav Lal listened to the Northern Lights. As they danced above his head he heard noises, swift and high-pitched, he recalls. Out of these sounds, shapes and patterns emerged, and from them, images.
Blind photographer Pranav Lal captures images using sound
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Lal, a consultant from New Delhi, was born blind, yet he can "see" thanks to technology called "The vOICe," which turns live camera images into sounds. As the camera scans from left to right, the pitch of the sounds denotes the elevation of objects, while the volume defines brightness. By learning to interpret the subtleties of the noises, it's possible to have a form of functional sight.
Pioneered by Dutch engineer Peter Meijer in the 1980s, The vOICe has evolved significantly. Through Meijer's website Seeing with Sound, it is available via glasses mounted with a camera, but also free to use for Android mobile devices, Raspberry Pi computers and as a web app; Lal even uses the software on his laptop screen, allowing him to shop online and view images of outer space.
"The major challenge is to learn to interpret those image sounds," Meijer tells CNN.
This is why Lal turned to photography in the early 2000s. "I joined the Seeing with Sound mailing list and I slowly started asking questions: 'I heard a sound like this, what could it mean?'" he explains. "I needed to share with the world what I was looking at so that they could answer my questions."