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Microsoft collaboration develops new headset for blind people to explore cities

A new smart headset has been developed, which will help people with sight loss to experience the urban landscape independently.

headset

Cities Unlocked, a partnership between Microsoft, Guide Dogs and Future Cities Catapult, has launched the results of the first phase of the project.

Microsoft Asia enterprise strategy director Amos Miller said: "This project started with a very common, but life changing experience. I became a father and I wanted to share in and enjoy every day experiences outside of the home with my daughter."

The headset will allow people with sight loss to independently and spontaneously explore their city and surroundings with confidence, said Guide Dogs.

Featuring Microsoft 3D audio technology, the headset works with a Windows phone and aids orientation, navigation and offers contextual information such as shops, points of interest, and additional journey details.

To create a personalised 3D-soundscape transmitted through the wearers jaw bone, cloud based location and navigation data works with a network of information beacons placed in urban locations.

Guide Dogs strategy and research head Jenny Cook said: "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.

"Currently, visiting a new city is often daunting, even for people with enough confidence to tackle the challenge independently."


Image: The new smart headset will allow people with sight loss to independently and spontaneously explore their city and surroundings. Photo: courtesy of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association 2014.