Rumblings about the layout and design of Apple's iPod scroll wheel in particular have been making the rounds for what seems like ages, but a new development from the Microsoft Research labs could nix the need to pull your DAP out and nearly collide with foreign objects whilst scrolling to a new tune. Aside from the glaring curiousness that stems from a Microsoft-derived project being dubbed earPod, the team has purportedly been working with scientists at the University of Toronto "on software that could make it possible to navigate the menus of gadgets that use circular touch pads with only audio cues." Essentially, touching the scroll wheel would provide audio clips to help you find your way through menus without ever seeing the screen, which would certainly prove useful on screenless DAPs. Currently, the system is quite limited in regard to the number of cues available, but here's to hoping that text-to-speech capabilities can become integrated as well so we can cycle through the thousands of artists and songs without even needing a display. [Warning: PDF read link]

[Via TechnologyReview]

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earPod creation could add auditory menus to iPod, DAPs