Improving training for sensory augmentation using the science of expertise

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Abstract

Sensory substitution and augmentation devices (SSADs) allow users to perceive information about their environment that is usually beyond their sensory capabilities. Despite an extensive history, SSADs are arguably not used to their fullest, both as assistive technology for people with sensory impairment or as research tools in the psychology and neuroscience of sensory perception. Studies of the non-use of other assistive technologies suggest one factor is the balance of benefits gained against the costs incurred. We argue that improving the learning experience would improve this balance, suggest three ways in which it can be improved by leveraging existing cognitive science findings on expertise and skill development, and acknowledge limitations and relevant concerns. We encourage the systematic evaluation of learning programs, and suggest that a more effective learning process for SSADs could reduce the barrier to uptake and allow users to reach higher levels of overall capacity.

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