The Inquirer-Home

Microsoft to help visually impaired with Glass-alike device

Device with RNIB 'not a Glass rival'
Thu Jul 17 2014, 14:24
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MICROSOFT HAS REVEALED an "Alice Band" that is definitely, absolutely not a Google Glass rip-off.

The research project being carried out in association with Guide Dogs For The Blind is aimed squarely at assisting those with visual impairments to get around in busy places, rather than the complete wearable personal assistant envisaged by Google.

By bouncing signals off objects, the Alice Band creates a picture of the world around it and can use voice instructions to guide the wearer. In addition it uses Bing Maps to create navigation routes and can even suggest destinations and ideas for activities. Which sounds suspiciously like Glass, in our opinion.

In addition the device is able to detect stress levels of the wearer and tailor the level of assistance in order to avoid as much anxiety as possible.

Testers have said that the device, which both parties emphasise is not designed for commercial applications, allows them to navigate with a similar level of ease.

The demonstration video below, which predates the announcement of Cortana, clearly indicates the type of functionality that would eventually form the backbone of Microsoft's Siri rival.

Google recently brought its Glass explorer programme to the UK and among the use cases it demonstrated at the event was a blind Glass explorer who used Glass to augment the assistance from his guide dog with aural cues.

This Thursday, The Queen will be visiting Microsoft's Reading campus and will see the Alice Band project first hand. The project is part of Cities Unlocked, which is in turn part of the government funded Future Cities Catapult, aimed at establishing world leading innovations in key areas. µ


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