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Microsoft Headset to Help Blind People Navigate Cities


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A new headset that could help the visually impaired navigate urban locations.

Microsoft is working with British charity Guide Dogs to develop a headset that will help the visually impaired navigate urban areas.

Credit: BBC News

Microsoft is collaborating with a British charity to develop a headset that could help the blind and the visually impaired navigate urban locations.

Jenny Cook, head of strategy and research for Guide Dogs, the group working with Microsoft on the project, says those with sight loss often do not leave the house with any frequency, in part because navigating unfamiliar areas independently can be daunting.

The new headset is meant to remedy that by using information gathered from global-positioning systems and local beacons to determine where the user is and helping them navigate a given route with a blend of signals and direct audible commands such as "turn right."

The headset is adapted from an existing model that is designed for cyclists, but is mounted in front of the user, rather than over the ear, so it does not drown out the surrounding sounds.

Of eight visually-impaired people who tested the headset, six said wearing it made them feel more confident while navigating an unfamiliar area. One testing participant said it could help the visually impaired to go out even when they haven't made arrangements for transportation or accompaniment.


From BBC News
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