This is another splendid launch of Microsoft: People affected with blindness are now able to locate their direction by using a headset that is able to project 3D sound maps!
Microsoft has been constantly working on this project to make a headset that will create a sound map of the city. This may definitely sound unbelievable in the first go. Can someone really come up a sound map? Microsoft has turned this imagination into reality by helping blind and partially-sighted people to navigate themselves through their surroundings. The other part of the project is called “Cities Unlocked,” where the company has partnered with a wide variety of other companies. Some of the companies are Guide Dogs for the Blind and AfterShokz.
The headset is designed in a way that it does not cover the ears. However, it uses bone-conducting audio which ensures that the wearer of this headset is always aware of their surroundings.
Once you pair it with a mobile phone which has Windows installed, it catches signals from the Bluetooth beacons which are spread over the city, creating a 3D-audio map by using verbal description, clicks, and beeps.
Since the sound is directional, it alters in terms of tone and pitch. This is one of the reasons why it can be used to lead someone to their destination.
This is a lot like a digital guide dog! Because some of the audio map is generated using Bing and Google Maps, it can provide contextual information along the way, including street names, points of interest, public transport locations, shops, and even details on road works.
The headset appears to be a modified version of AftershokzBluez headphones, and includes GPS, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope inside, so it knows which way the wearer is facing.
A volunteer working on this project told a news reporter, “There are things the technology cannot do, like tell me when there is traffic coming, so I would keep my dog for those purposes, but knowing that there is a post box coming up, or that there is a bank nearby is very helpful.”
Currently, as an example, the headset is being paired with Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930 for test examination. Research reveals that 180,000 in the UK suffer from eye-sight impairment, finding it difficult to travel on their own. The Cities Unlocked project aims to show that 62 percent of wearers of this augmented reality headset in the early tests felt safer as well as more confident. It is also expected that the headset will increase independence and mobility in this segment of people.
Though Microsoft’s tech will not replace the hard-working guide dog, or even a cane, it has the potential to enrich people’s lives. As for today, this invention is splendid and gives a new hope to blind people who cannot see but they can always navigate themselves and realize how smart phones, Bluetooth beacons and wearable technology have modified their lives.