Following the successful launch of its AI-powered free app for the blind “Seeing AI” at the middle of last year, Microsoft is once again launching another app for the blind. Soundscape has been an app in the making—it actually took the company a couple of years to put it together. The aim of the new app is to guide individuals with vision impairment around cities.
Soundscape according to Microsoft, will only be available to users in the US and the UK, and also only available on iOS. The app will provide 3D audio signals that will help you find your way around town, malls, coffee shops and more. Soundscape will also be a willing ally when it comes to making you aware of your immediate environment and the things around you as you move around.
Soundscape is very different from step-by-step navigation apps. According to Microsoft, the app “uses 3D audio cues to enrich ambient awareness and provide a new way to relate to the environment. It allows you to build a mental map and make personal route choices while being more comfortable within unfamiliar spaces.”
Getting started with Soundscape: Connect a stereo headset or earbuds. Follow the introduction and when prompted, allow the app to access your location. Then, explore a familiar route to get used to how Soundscape delivers spatial information.
The app was created by Microsoft in partnership with Guide Dogs UK, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and the LightHouse for the Blind. The technology is fairly new, and still requires a lot of getting used to, but things are expected to improve with time. As a matter of fact, Microsoft is calling for feedback from users to enable it improve on those areas where users might experience some challenges while using Soundscape.
Last year, Microsoft launched “Seeing AI,” a free powerful app designed to help the blind navigate their environment. It is more or less a talking camera for the blind—and it is well designed by Microsoft to help guide the blind.
Simply point your iPhone at anything, and the app will tell you what it is. It has demonstrated impressive ability to identify things like documents, menu card, a friend, your face, and your room among others.
If you are looking for an app that is fairly quick at helping the visually impaired navigate their environment, then Microsoft has designed a powerful one—and it’s even free. The app will tell you how far you are to some items in your home, and help you navigate away from them.
Seeing AI has the following features:
- Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
- Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting.
- Gives audio beeps to help locate barcodes and then scans them to identify products.
- Recognizes friends and describes people around you, including their emotions.