Microsoft Improves its Navigation Headphones to Help the Blind
Microsoft started an initiative last year called Cities Unlocked and introduced its first in-ear device on a trial basis in the UK. The highlight of this device was that it allowed users to hold conversations without the headset’s audio drowning out the voices.
The initiative, which was founded in 2011 as a partnership between Microsoft and a UK based charity called Guide Dogs, is now introducing its ‘phase two’ over-the-ears headset which includes audio descriptions and instructions related to directions, navigation and over-all surroundings of the user. The ‘3D soundscape’ of the device takes into account the direction of the incoming sound as well as the one the wearer is facing.
Jarnail Chudge, Microsoft’s project leader for Cities Unlocked programme, says, “After phase one last year we started to think deeply about how we can empower people to be more independent, more mobile, and act in much the same way as a sighted person would do.”
The audio prompts would be provided by the headset using a Bluetooth connected smartphone. More information about the surroundings can also be requested by the wearer, along with the option of replaying the audio they’ve just heard. The initiative aims to help over 285 million visually impaired people all over the globe using technology.
Find out more about this new headset in the video below.
Source: Irish Examiner