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Wearable 3D soundscape.

Microsoft’s new headset creates a 3D soundscape of a city giving visually impaired people the confidence to get travelling.

Working with Guide Dogs in the UK and Future Cities Catapult, Microsoft have spent the past two years designing and building a revolutionary headset. The device gives people with vision difficulties access to city sounds and background noise that someone with good vision may take for granted.

The headset contains a GPS tracker, gyroscope and compass. It can be programmed to talk you through what you’ll experience on your chosen route — kind of like the satellite navigation system in your car but for pedestrians. The device is paired with a smartphone and uses Microsoft’s Bing maps to connect users to location data around a city — such as beacons on lamp-posts, or streetlights.

The headset essentially paints a picture for the user through sound. It can help people with a visual impairments to move through the city with more confidence, enlightening them of obstacles or interesting landmarks along the way.

It is a fascinating technological development to watch. Who knows where technology like this will take us and how it will improve our life in the future.

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