3D Audio Navigation

Microsoft introduces 3D Audio Navigation app for sightless Aussies

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Microsoft has launched Soundscape in Australia for helping the ones with low-vision or blindness with Vision Australia, a not-for-profit organization and Australia’s largest provider of services for people with blindness and low-vision.

There are around 384,000 blind or low vision people in Australia, and the number is estimated to grow to 564,000 by 2030.

Soundscape uses 3D audio technology to navigate landmarks till destination of interest through audio clues. The app describes in such a way to help the user make a mental map of the route and feel their surroundings. The application also calls out the roads and lanes.

Earlier, the app was launched in the US and UK in February, and after collaboration with Vision Australia, is now available on iOS and iPhone for free.

David Woodbridge, access technology advisor at Vision Australia stated, “Rather than dictate what I should do, it allows me to make my own decisions based on the information it is providing, meaning I am always in control. For me, it really is about feeling stress-free when I’m out and about. The app is easy to use and I have my own personal markers set for different locations. My local coffee shop is always a priority and the ‘coffee shop’ marker on Soundscape gets a lot of use.”

Vision Australia works in partnership with Australians with low-vision or blindness to help them interact with the world. The organization is also a major participant and partner in the international blindness community.

Microsoft’s AI and R&D team’s collaboration with Vision Australia

Before the Soundscape’s Australia launch, Microsoft worked for six months with Vision Australia’s orientation and mobility team to help them test and understand the app’s features.

Speaking about the app, Microsoft said, “The intention of Soundscape is not to replace aids such as a dog guide or cane, but to enable a user to more naturally and intuitively connect with their environment without disrupting their ability to attend to other tasks, activities, or interactions with other people.”



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