The promise of mixed reality has always been its ability to overlay the world with a layer of information that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Think: ratings for the restaurants you walk by or labels for the type of flower you’re smelling inthe park.
It turns out that HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, has some wonderfully practical applications as well. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology have developed a new application that guides people with vision impairment through a building.
Using its real-time mapping capabilities, the headset can create a complex interior map of a campus building. The headset’s speaker, which has a surround sound quality, acts as a dynamic audio guide, navigating the person through the building by telling them when to walk up stairs and turn right or left, or if there are guide rails to grip.
It’s not the first time audio guides have helped the vision impaired navigate complex environments. Two years ago the nonprofit Wayfindr launched an app that uses beacon technology to guide the blind through indoor environments like the London Tube. The HoloLens experiment aims to achieve something similar—only without the need to install a network of beacons across a building or space.