Research by Guide Dogs suggests that in the UK, 180,000 blind or partially sighted people rarely leave home alone.
It should come as no surprise then that for these individuals, making any journey, let alone an unfamiliar one, can leave them feeling anxious and vulnerable. But what if we could substitute the one sense they are missing, by augmenting another?
Cities Unlocked is a collaboration between Guide Dogs and Microsoft. It was first rolled out last year, when Microsoft released a headset designed to help the visually impaired much more easily navigate through busy cities. It focused on using bone conduction to send things like clicks and other cues designed to help the user get around
This week, Microsoft announced two new experiences have been added to the software, with users now able to use either their voice or a physical remote to ask for and hear additional information about landmarks around them. This works alongside navigation within the app that guides wearers to and around a destination using directional audio and sound prompts to help build a mental image.
Microsoft said the second phase had been re-designed to be more “descriptive rather than prescriptive”
To find out more about the Cities Unlocked Project visit http://www.citiesunlocked.org.uk/
To discover more about the technology involved click here.