News Item

New navaid for the blind

Microsoft is piloting its 3D soundscape technology - an audio-rich experience for people with vision loss.

The project - the worldwide pilot being in Reading - is the result of a partnership between Microsoft, the charity Guide Dogs and a number of other partners including: Network Rail, Reading Buses, Future Cities Catapult, Reading Borough Council and Tesco.

The 3D soundscape technology is an audio-based experience in which a bone-conducting headset (so ears are not covered - one can still hear the outside world), smartphone and indoor and outdoor beacons work together to enhance the mobility, confidence and independence of people with vision loss.

'Clip-clops' through the headset urge the wearer forward with 'sonar pings' indicating a veer off course. Turn-by-turn directions, descriptions of points-of-interest, transport updates and road warnings are continuous through bone conduction.

The system uses GNSS, WiFi and Bluetooth beacons, together with a phone app that allows single-hand swiping with the thumb - so that the other hand is free.

An excellent description and video of the system can be found at the Microsoft link below . .

  • 08 November 2014
  • NOF

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