Microsoft launches app that helps the visually impaired navigate cities

Microsoft launched Soundscape, a new app that aims to help people who are visually impaired navigate better by giving them 3D cues.

They don’t want to replace guide dogs or canes but enrich people’s perception of their surroundings. A guide dog can’t tell you that there’s a Nike Store just around the corner. Using GPS and the built-in compass on the phone, the app can give people audio cues.

“Obstacle avoidance is not the problem, we have a dog, a cane and our blindness skills for that,” said Erin Lauridsen, Access Technology Director, LightHouse for the Blind.“The gap is knowing where things are and being able to decide what’s of interest.”

The app offers three possible actions: ‘locate’ tells you where you are, ‘around me’ calls out four points of interest around you and ‘ahead of me’ provides the names of five landmarks in front of you.

Why it’s hot:
It might not be a groundbreaking innovation and in terms of technology, it might not be the most advanced thing. But there’s nothing better than seeing technology been used to improve the quality of life of people.

Source: TechCrunch

Visionary Solutions for the Visually Impaired

Blind and visually impaired individuals often have to rely on others for help with basic life tasks such as navigating an unfamiliar room, matching clothing or reading a menu at a restaurant. Technology exists that can help, but it often involves purchasing expensive singular devices for each purpose or carrying heavy equipment and power cords around that can sometimes make users stand out in social settings.
Visus Technology, Inc. is developing Velasense—a mobile application suite that uses the Verizon 4G LTE network and smartphones with advanced cameras and sensors—to deliver real-time feedback to users about people, objects and surroundings, including through tools for recognizing text, colors, currency, barcodes, and familiar faces. Useful information can also be stored in the Verizon Cloud for playback on command.

This application suite was recently tested at the Carroll Center for the Blind, and even the simple act of connecting students to social media offered a new level of social interaction. These solutions will not only help to improve the ease of daily life for customers, but will also help them find new ways of engaging with others, and can enable greater access to education, employment opportunities and life-changing independence. The next generation of solutions will include a hands-free, audio-controlled headset that can operate like a “seeing digital assistant.”