Microsoft launches Soundscape app that helps visually challenged people navigate using 3D sound

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Microsoft has launched an audio-based iOS app, Soundscape, to enable people with blindness or low-vision. The app creates 3D sound to build richer awareness of their surroundings and provides a new way to relate to the environment making people empowered and more confident while travelling locally and in new places.

The app can also run on the background and can be used with other apps such as navigation apps too to provide additional information about the user’s surroundings. The app uses 3D audio cues with synthesised binaural audio, creating the effect of 3D sound about the surrounding.

Other features on the app includes information buttons that help build a picture of where you are and what’s around you. An information buttons on the app called “Around Me” will call-out four point of interest in a 360 degree sweep around the user, providing an mental image of what’s around the user. The “Ahead of Me” button on the app tells about five items in front the user.

The app uses OpenStreetMap mapping platform to provide the information about the places around.

Setting a beacon and Wayfinding are few of the other features that help a visually challenged person in reaching to a destination with step-by-step instructions.

Microsoft in a blog post mentioned that “Soundscape can help reduce levels of stress and anxiety, giving people with sight loss more confidence when they’re out and about in an urban environment.”

Soundscape is only available on iOS platform and runs on iPhone 5S or later version of the Apple iPhones. The app is also compatible with most wired or Bluetooth stereo headsets.

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