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Consumer Lifestyle
Published: 12 Jun 2018

Microsoft HoloLens Guides Blind People

Extra
HoloLens may soon act as a virtual guide for blind people

Microsoft's HoloLens – a headset containing a holographic computer – will soon be able to guide blind people through buildings, thanks to its ability to map spaces in real time and offer audio guidance via speakers.

The mixed-reality headset allows users to see, hear and interact with 3D holograms that are "pinned" in their field of vision. Unlike other augmented glasses, HoloLens holograms interact with the world while the user is moving, as multiple sensors can map the user's surrounding space in detail.

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology have designed an application that allows the HoloLens's features to act as a virtual guide, helping blind individuals navigate complex buildings by restoring vision at a cognitive level. The wearable computer captures images of the surrounding environment, and conveys this information via auditory augmented reality. Its speakers can make sound appear as if it's coming from different points within the space – enabling users to find their way just by following the voice, without the need for any physical aids.

"The combination of unprecedented computing power in wearable devices with augmented reality technology promises a new era of non-invasive prostheses", reads the abstract of the research. Considering that 253 million people in the world are blind or visually impaired (WHO, 2017), this technology could be life-changing for many in the future.

For more on the advances in accessibility tech, see 10 Trends to Watch in 2018, Design for Disability: Transformative Tech and our Diversity Outlook Innovation Platform.

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