An urban navigation tool for the blind, 'Cities Unlocked' is broadening horizons

This past week, Phase One of a partnership between Microsoft, Guide Dogs and Future Cities launched in London. The project — CitiesUnlocked — exploits multiple technologies so the visually impaired can explore cities with more independence and in greater safety.

It's a device straight off of a comic book gadgeteer's drawing board: a smart headset paired with navigation data that works with a network of information beacons spread throughout the city. Combined, they create a personalized three dimensional soundscape that transmits through the wearer's jaw bone. This amplified and enhanced audio data helps anybody with vision loss navigate obstacles while simultaneously providing a real-time feed of details about the shops, points of interest and other details of the trip.

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