Microsoft’s new wearable device enables people with vision loss to find their way around cities “as easily as anybody else”. It helps the blind people to navigate around complex buildings and public spaces. It is based on Microsoft’s 3D soundscape technology – an audio-rich experience in which the headset, smartphone and indoor and outdoor beacons all work together to enhance the mobility, confidence and independence of people with vision loss.
“People living with sight loss face a multitude of challenges every day that can prevent them from getting where they want to be in life,” explained Jenny Cook, head of strategy and research at Guide Dogs.
“Currently, visiting a new city is often daunting, even for people with enough confidence to tackle the challenge independently. For others, who rarely leave home alone, the thought of an unfamiliar journey leaves them stressed and anxious and visiting a new area is an impossible dream.”
Sound is conducted through the jawbone and the headset gives a series of verbal and non-verbal descriptions.
This project is the result of a unique partnership between Microsoft, the charity Guide Dogs, and a number of other partners including Network Rail, Reading Buses, the urban planning agency Future Cities Catapult, the Reading Borough Council and the grocer Tesco (not to mention the understanding neighbors on Tamarisk Avenue).
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