Microsoft and ‘Guide Dogs’ help blind people navigate cities
A new headset for blind people works on Windows Phone
Millions of blind people around the world rarely or never go out because of fears and lack of confidence going to unfamiliar places. Thanks to a new headset developed by Microsoft and Guide Dogs, visually impaired can navigate crowded areas in the UK independently.
BBC reports that Microsoft’s headset for blind people works on Windows Phone and uses GPS location data and information from beacons attached nearby to offer people as much feel for the area as possible. Users receive contextual information for their routes from an experimental audio system which also provides specific instructions like ‘turn left or right’. A special sound indicates whether the person is on the right track or not, while a voice system gives information about cars, trees and other objects ahead.
The testing process of the headset has almost finished and the results are quite positive. Most of the testers report they feel safer while wearing the headset. The technology, however, has some physical limitations. First, it relies heavily on a network of beacons along the route so Microsoft should work more on expanding the influence on GPS and its cloud based services at the expense of the beacons. Second, the headset is available only in the UK and there is no info if and when a similar service will become available in other countries.