A Spatial Solution for the Visually-Impaired

Courtesy of SocietyfortheBlind.com

Courtesy of SocietyfortheBlind.com

As audio engineers, we’re no strangers to the hype. To us, the entire world of spatial audio is fun, exciting, and engaging. It’s why we chose to create 8ball. And while right now there are more and more advances being made toward the integration of truly breathtaking 3D audio in our games, entertainment, and applications, there are also more companies paving the way toward a more inclusive future.

With huge tech companies like Google and Apple developing applications for the visually/auditory-impaired, 2019 is off to a great start for accessibility. In a recent article on accessibility and applications, Wired’s Lauren Goode writes, “Two new mobile apps being rolled out [by Google], Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier, are aimed at those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Live Transcribe app uses Google’s cloud-based, speech-to-text intelligence to offer text representations of spoken conversations as they’re happening, while Sound Amplifier relies on an Android-based dynamic audio processing effect to make speech and other sounds easier to hear.” These are exciting developments.

At HEAR360, we’re working on spatial audio applications for navigation systems, which we believe could have a huge future benefit for everyone, including the visually-impaired community — almost 255 million people worldwide. Through the use of custom HRTFs, we can tailor incredibly accurate sound localization, allowing any user to have better situational awareness without having to focus all of their senses on a device. For example, a cellphone doesn’t always know which way the user is facing. However, our technology can take audio cues and spatialize the information over headphones, providing real-time navigation for any end-user. Now, with a nudge from our spatialized audio, anyone, not just those with visual-impairments, can receive actionable, accessible directional information.

Accessibility apps are empowering technologies that enable people with disabilities to elevate their daily lives. If we have an opportunity to change someone’s life for the better, HEAR360 believes we should pursue it, full-steam ahead.

You can read more on Google’s new apps here. And reach out to Matt@HEAR360.io if you want to talk accessibility.

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Matthew Pritchard