He hears shapes, clicks it!

Blind photographer Pranav Lal listens to vOICe tool that assists him to the perfect shot

Published: 15th November 2016 10:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2016 03:31 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: A complimentary webcam with a laptop and a printing machine to submit essay papers are all it takes for visually impaired 37-year-old Pranav Lal to follow his passion of becoming a photographer and a writer.

The Kuwait-born-Delhiite takes pictures from his iPhone SE, mainly of landscapes and structures. He is fascinated with objects that he cannot touch. For example his favourite photograph that he took is of a geyser in Iceland in 2011.

Lal pursued photography as a challenge. “I asked myself what is the most visual thing I can do? Photography struck me. I started from the blog and that is how it got big,” says Lal.

How does he do it?
He uses a technology called vOICe to assist him in photography. The vOICe is a tool that offers the experience of live camera views through image-to-sound renderings to the blind. Images are converted into sound by scanning them from left to right. The elevation is measured with pitch and brightness with loudness. This acts as an artificial eye citing the dimension of everything in front. The vOICe comes with a camera and  a headset. “When you listen to the sound of the vOICe, the electrical impulses gets converted to sound, in the same way the visual images are processed by the organic eyes,” says Lal. By using the vOICe to identify the image and iPhone camera to capture it, he mostly depends on shapes of the objects.

“If I see an interesting shape, I aim and shoot,” says the blind photographer.
“Is this vision?” questions Lal, “I cannot answer because I have never seen” he answers himself. “But my eyes are truly an international device. The vOICe is from Netherlands, the hardware I use is from America, the camera is from China and the cables are from India,” he laughs.
He prefers using phone camera over DSLR because it is convenient to share and classify the pictures.
His longing to share his visual experience with the world was enough to inspire him to take up photography in 2001.

His artistry has rendered him high recognition. A commerce student by degree, an artist by popularity but a science student by heart, Pranav Lal had built a science laboratory at home when he was in his teens. He attempted to write a graphic version of solar system simulation.  A self taught programmer, he now works for cyber security.

He is also a programmer by hobby and is part of crowdfunding campaign called Dictation Bridge where he enables speech recognition for blind people.
Apart from being a photographer and a programmer he is also a published writer. He has published six novellas so far and many action-adventure based short stories on Kindle.  

Since he is a photographer, a writer and also a programmer, it is quite hard to identify him without an understatement. “I don’t want to be labeled,” is what he answers on being asked to describe himself.
“I don’t know what I’ll be doing tomorrow, but I definitely don’t want to be labeled,” he adds.
His early days were spent in the Middle East since India was a closed economy then, without much technology and equipment, to aid a person born blind. It was solely for this reason that Pranav’s family moved to Oman.
He will be coming to Bengaluru on November 18 for India Inclusion Summit and will be giving a talk on the topic- seeing with sound.

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