Microsoft Corporation Tests 3D Audio Headset For Vision Impaired

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) truly strives to make the world a better place and it’s latest technology trial is evident of that. The tech giant has been working on this technology for awhile now by enabling the headphones to create a sound illusion which is emitted from a specific location.

Microsoft’s possible breakthrough in sound technology

According to a previous report from MIT, “I put on a pair of wireless headphones that made nearby objects suddenly burst into life. A voice appeared to emanate from a cardboard model of a portable radio. Higher quality music seemed to come from a fake hi-fi speaker. And a stuffed bird high off the ground produced realistic chirps.  As I walked around, the sounds changed so that the illusion never slipped as their position relative to my ears changed.”

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This device could be used with Oculus Rift, to potentially augment the visuals of the virtual reality realm. Microsoft is actually piloting the project in the United Kingdom. The company is investigating the possible benefits of the 3D audio technology for blind people. Microsoft is working with many companies including Guide Dogs charity, Future Cities Catapult, Reading Buses, Network Rail, Reading Borough Council, and supermarket chain Tesco.

How 3D Audio Tech could work

This would include a set of bone-conducting headphones place around the wearer’s skull. A small network of indoor and outdoor beacons work with a smartphone that lets the user ‘hear’ their way around the area.

The Bluetooth beacons are fixed to actual objects that communicate information back to the person. This is known as the “sensor-boosted physical environment”. It is a 3D soundscape which provides verbal cues which could be anything from GPS navigation or bus time arrivals.

This project is still in the very early stages and it is very interesting to see how this technology will be used to help the visually impaired.