Latest in Science

Image credit:

Microsoft updates navigation headset for the blind

"3D soundscape technology" helps the visually impaired enjoy and learn about their environs.
34 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

In 2011, Microsoft UK teamed up with charity Guide Dogs to create 'Cities Unlocked,' an organization that worked to create a headset designed to help the visually impaired. That device came last year, but now it's received some major hardware and software upgrades. Although the original simply used bone conduction to send audio clicks and cues to guide the user around, the latest iteration is less of a practical tool and more of an information-rich service. It uses something called "3D soundscape technology," which is kind of like a GPS that describes everything that's around them, from local cafés to alerts telling them when a bus or train is approaching the stop.

The headset now rests over the user's ears in order to allow outside sounds through. This means that the audio guide is unobtrusive, so people are still aware of their surroundings. What's more, wearers are able to speak into a microphone and ask for more information or to repeat the information they just heard. The idea is that the update turns the technology from perspective to descriptive. One person testing the device described it as "massively empowering," adding that it gave them confidence and made journeys a "pleasure rather than a chore." The technology doesn't even have to be for the visually impaired. Each element can be utilized by everyone, such as learning about your surroundings in a country where you don't speak the language. The prospects are infinite. Bring on phase three.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
34 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Kik Messenger will keep running under a different owner

Kik Messenger will keep running under a different owner

View
Netflix's 'Cowboy Bebop' production pauses after John Cho is injured on-set

Netflix's 'Cowboy Bebop' production pauses after John Cho is injured on-set

View
Nike puts an accessibility twist on its iconic Air Jordan 1

Nike puts an accessibility twist on its iconic Air Jordan 1

View
Harley-Davidson resumes LiveWire electric motorcycle production

Harley-Davidson resumes LiveWire electric motorcycle production

View
Alphabet’s Wing starts drone deliveries to US homes

Alphabet’s Wing starts drone deliveries to US homes

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr