You may be aware of Microsoft Soundscape, a research project from Microsoft that uses 3D audio cues to allows the blind and people with low vision to get a better understanding of their surroundings.
Microsoft has been working on Soundscape for a while, and it is a really amazing app that helps the blind navigate their surroundings through audio cues. Microsoft is now making Soundscape way more accessible with support for Bose frames.
Bose’s Frames are the company’s $200 audio sunglasses that feature an open-ear design, allowing them to listen to music/audio without blocking the wearer’s ears. Microsoft Soundscape now supports Bose Frames, and it’s actually pretty incredible.
Soundscape not only uses its existing technology to help users navigate their surrounding world with 3D audio cues but it makes use of Bose Frames’ 9-axis head-motion sensor and the built-in GPS to determine the direction the wearer is facing for improved audio cues. “The sensors embedded in Bose Frames allow Soundscape to sense those subtle head movements and help the wearer pinpoint the location of the ‘landmark’ using 3D audio cues generated by Soundscape, offering improved awareness of one’s environment and enhanced navigational support,” said Rico Malvar, a Chief Scientist and Distiguished Engineer, Microsoft. This is super effective as us humans can instinctively make subtle head movements to locate the origin of the sound.
Malvar said Microsoft has received positive feedback from early testers of the new Soundscape experience. “Early testers of this experience have shared that this combination feels incredibly natural and makes them feel significantly more aware of their surroundings.”
Microsoft is one of the few large tech companies that tend to invest in accessibility projects like this, and it’s honestly really inspiring.