Tony Heyes: short c.v.


Visitors to this page who are not from an academic background might think that this catalogue of qualifications and achievements indicates some sort of genius.
Far from it, please do not be put off from contacting me.
Were I to list my failures and the things at which I am hopeless, the list would be far far longer!






University of

University of

Corpus Christi College

University of

University of













Research Fellow


Honourary Fellow

Born in the UK in 1940 Tony was awarded a BSc in Physics with First Class Honours from the University of Salford . Research on the propagation of cracks through brittle solids at the Cavendish Physics Laboratory led to a PhD from the University of Cambridge . The Cavendish is a 'name droppers' paradise' and yes, Tony did know Stephen Hawking. They never worked together but they did drink a considerable amount of the local beer together. While at Cambridge Tony was attached to Corpus Christi College.

A Post-Doctoral Fellowship, still at Cambridge, was followed by a brief period in industry with the Aluminium Company of Canada .  Tony returned to University joining the Psychology Department at the University of Nottingham as a Research Fellow in the Blind Mobility Research Unit. (Tony had suffered bi-lateral detached retinae while at Cambridge. After seven unsuccesful operations in Cambridge an eighth was performed at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London by the renowned Lorimer Fison and the sight of one eye restored).

During the seventeen years spent at Nottingham, Tony achieved a detailed understanding of the informational needs of the blind pedestrian. He was able to embody much of this understanding in a series of novel electronic mobility guidance devices culminating in the invention of the Sonic Pathfinder - the first guidance device for the vision impaired to make use of the techniques of artificial intelligence. His inventiveness expressed itself in a number of other ways: hearing aids for the deaf/blind, textured paving slabs, audible and tactile displays for pedestrian crossings, speech synthesised information displays (eg the Talking Bus Stop) and the now ubiquitous Parking Sensor, a spin-off from the Sonic Pathfinder was patented in 1983. During the period spent at Nottingham Tony obtained a second PhD entitled "Auditory information and the mobile blind"; this one in Psychology!
In 1971 Tony was invited by the American neuoscientist - now regarded as one of the founding fathers of Neuroplasticity - Paul Bach y Rita of the The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco to assist with their Sensory Substitution research program in particular helping to get their Tactile-Vison Substitution System portable for use as a Mobility Aid for blind pedestrians. Tony also spent some time as a Visiting Research Fellow at: the University of Western Michigan, Kalamazoo and the British Telecom Research Laboratories , Martlesham. And later as a Research Associate at the Centre for Visual Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Tony has published some forty scientific papers and holds a number of UK patents.
In 1987 Tony was invited to move to Australia and take up the newly created post of Manager, Research and Development with the Royal Guide Dogs Associations of Australia (RGDAA).
In 1995 Tony left RGDAA and formed his own business, Perceptual Alternatives. He continues to maintain formal academic relationships with a number of University departments having been an Associate of the Photonics Red Centre , a Research Associate of the Department of Optometry at the University of Melbourne and a part time lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at LaTrobe University. In addition to his work on disability Tony has undertaken regular consultative assignments for industry specializing in: man/machine interface problems, remote sensing and the safe transportation of volatile substances.

Sometimes projects can be a lot of fun. Tony worked with a young inventor, Steve Steer, to develop Tackle Tracka: the world's first fishing rod computer.

When required to declare his occupation, Tony describes himself as a Gentleman Scientist and Ultracrepidarian . He is a keen cyclist, bushwalker and windsurfer. As a partially sighted bird watcher he claims to see more UFOs in a day than most people see in a lifetime. He is a reader of New Scientist and a fully paid up member of the Australian Skeptics - an organisation dedicated to investigating pseudo-science and the paranormal from a responsible scientific viewpoint.

A Secular Humanist, for six years Tony served on the Human Research & Ethics Committee at the Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital - a part of the University of Melbourne.

Since 2004 Tony has been a Tutor with the University of the Third Age, the U3A, predominately at Manningham but also at Nunawading and on the Mornington Peninsula at Dromana. Subjects taught include: "Web Page Design", "The History of Science", "The Philosophy of Science", "The Physics of the World About Us", "The History of Evidence Based Medicine" and "Cosmology".

In 2018 Tony was invited to become an Honourary Fellow in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne.

Tony has recorded a number of radio interviews mostly for Beyond Infinity, the weekly science program broadcast by Radio Port Philip (RPP FM)

In 2016
The life of a Scientist

Our Plastic Brains.

In 2017 he recorded a two part lecture entitled "Our Changing View of Reality"
Our Changing View of Reality: Part One

Our Changing View of Reality: Part Two.

In 2019 he was invited back to the studio to take part in a number of unscripted ultracrepidarian discussions:
The 150 year anniversary of the Periodic Table

How to image a Black Hole

Looks Like The Universe's Rate Of Expansion Is Variable

On Stephen Hawking's Epitaph

And yet more lectures:
Sir Fred Hoyle; why he did not get a Nobel Prize. Part One

Sir Fred Hoyle; why he did not get a Nobel Prize. Part Two

Our Restless Earth. Part One

Our Restlass Earth. Part Two

How to really lose weight

The tree in the swamp    also know as The Adams Event    as explained by      Stephen Fry

And for the BBC:

40 years after inventing the    Parking Sensor   the BBC have deemed me to be an  unsung hero    on the BBC Radio 5   Elis James and John Robbins Show    episode 157.
Click below to hear the audio clip


Tony may be contacted by email:

My Wikipedia User entry is here.

My bio written at the request of the U3A is called     Do we need to bring Gym Shoes to a Physics Class?

Tony's web page is named after his travel aid for the blind ie.


See Tony describing the Sonic Pathfinder on YouTube



This web page has been written by Tony Heyes
of Perceptual Alternatives



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