Microsoft’s Headset, HoloLens Can Now Guide The Blind Through Buildings


Ever imagined a headset that can do much more than help to listen to good music? Yes, that’s exactly what the Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is about. It can do much more, as much as being a guide to the blind through complicated buildings.

Microsoft’s HoloLens is a luxury face computer initially designed for mixing digital images with the real world. It is a device that enables people to interact with content and information in the most natural ways possible. One key feature is “mixed reality”, which mixes reality by bringing people, places and objects from physical and digital worlds together, thereby creating a new blended environment for users. However, a group of scientists has been able to tweak this device to become good at a totally unanticipated application – helping blind people find their way through buildings and offering a better sense of where objects are around them. As it stands, this new found application is now proving to be more important than its initial use of mixing-imagery-with-reality stuff.

According to a report by MIT Technology Review, Microsoft’s headset, HoloLens, which has been tested and found to conform to the basic impact protection requirements of ANSI Z87.1, CSA Z94.3 and EN 166, now possess the ability to guide the blind. This was a break through discovery by researchers at the California Institute of Technology. They achieved this by creating a new guiding app for HoloLens by taking advantage of the device’s real-time room and object mapping capability, as well as speakers that can make audio seem to be coming from different points in three-dimensional space.

Here is a list of current apps on Microsoft HoloLens:

  • Microsoft Remote Assist
    Microsoft Layout
    Power BI
    Holo Tour

Several other community apps are available just as the new app, that is giving HoloLens its ability to guide the blind through buildings.

In a video showing HoloLens guiding a blind man through a building, a female voice directs a HoloLens-wearing study subject, who is blind, by saying things like “Railings on both sides,” “Up stairs,” and “Right turn ahead.” The man follows the commands, walking easily from a first-floor lobby up a set of staircases, around several corners, and past a few doorways until he arrives at a room on the second floor. The accuracy of HoloLens is awesome as all tested seven subjects got to their destination on the first try, though one briefly got off track.

Microsoft HoloLens’ ability to guide the bling through building research could eventually lead to a device that could be offered to visually impaired visitors at unfamiliar areas more easily. With World Health Organization’s estimates of 253 million blind or visually impaired people globally, there obviously appears to be a huge market for HoloLens application in guiding so the potential market for such an application could be huge.

Microsoft HoloLens currently sells commercial for $5,000 while the development edition goes for $3,000. Get it here.

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