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Microsoft reportedly working on wearable device to help the blind

A new report claims that Microsoft is working on a new wearable device designed to help blind people navigate better in public, and that it's currently being tested in the UK.

The report claims that eight blind people in Reading are involved in the secretive pilot project for the device, which combines a headband with an earpiece. When the user of the headband looks at certain objects, it relays information about it to the earpiece.

The Sunday Times was the first to report on the project, which it claims it is part of an collaborative effort between Microsoft, Guide Dogs and the Future Cities Catapult called Cities Unlocked. Guide Dogs released a concept video in 2012 that may give an idea of what this pilot project might be like.

The Sunday Times adds that Microsoft is not officially commenting on this project but that more information could be revealed sometime in the next few months. What do you think of this idea for a wearable device to help the blind?

Source: Sunday Times (opens in new tab) via BBC

  • That's a WIN idea, take that A&G ^_^
  • +520
  • Very noble, very very noble. Good work Microsoft.
  • Nice idea...
  • ok so let the jokes start about how the only person who'll get the windows watch is a blind man...
  • I'm not quite sure this is the direction to go with regards to relaying information to the blind. A blind person uses their auditory system as a primary means for localization of moving objects in the environment, by covering one of the ear canals with an earbud you would drastically cut down a person's ability to identify the direction, distance and speed of a moving object (car, person, etc.) A watch with a series of vibratory impulses would be significantly more useful in my opinion, similar to the way a guide dog would provide feedback through the leash. edit: bone conduction (speaker placed against the skull behind the ear) would possibly work, allowing the ear canal to remain unhindered.
  • Reasonable point, but I think it's fair to say that the teams embarking on this project are 'well aware' of these factors. I don't think they would even start before consulting with experts in these fields.. Sometimes oversimplified tech blogs do not give in depth information.
  • It doesn't need to be an earbud in your ear, which would be clunky anyway, could be the headband has a bone conducting speaker on it.
  • Hmmm I see what they did there.
  • I love MS for the difference they make to peoples lives.  I saw a video a while ago showing the kinect being used as a sign language translater, amazing! so much so that I got in touch with the Architect and the head of the Deaf association in UK and got them together, who knows what will happen!
  • Very cool tech. Looking forward to seeing the MicroCane in action
  • Very good idea! Proud of you MS. Hope they succeed!
  • Making a difference...that's what MS stands for
  • Even Microsoft narrator is there for the needed ones. I guess everyone can't afford Microsoft narrator
  • reminds me of the Movie her in a way
  • Awesome idea. That is how technology should reach out.
  • now thats an idea that could help a lot of people who got ignored by the rest of the world, i have to say thank you Microsoft :)
  • Yes indeed a novel idea but, MS as always has good ideas but they implement it in wrong way or make it sooo late to the market that competitor's grab the market, remember,
    when MSR done some contact lens which check blood glucose levels, even that was novel idea it could have helped many people with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels but now, everyone thinks that same project it Google X brain child, this is what is wrong with MS they need to realize that and they need to market that and be a hip brand in coming generation at the Same time helping some to make their lives better.
  • Very cool. Hell, I'd want this technology, it seems fun to have that kind of information so readily available.
  • My parents use WMC with the amulet remote, their both blind, I wish Microsoft would push more technology like this, the speech recognition is spot on!
  • +520
  • Fucking badass. I hate that the blind are left behind in this massive tech age. I'm sure the technology exists... I'm glad Microsoft is working to find it.
  • It'd be nice to be able to click links that are posted in the comments (via the WPCentral app)... Just sayin... Lol, oops. Found it....