Brampton Partnering With Microsoft To Launch New Innovative App
The City of Brampton is working closely with a big brand to transform the way residents and visitors experience the city.
Microsoft Canada recently announced its new app called Soundscape, an app that empowers people with low or no vision to explore the world around them through a 3D audio experience. Soundscape will be available on iOS and iPhone for free in English and French.
Brampton will be the first city in Canada to pilot the Soundscape app.
“Creating a truly accessible city for everyone is a major priority for the City of Brampton and we believe technology will play a big role in helping us achieve our goals. Soundscape will help add more insight and information, which will help people of all abilities gain confidence and get more from their experiences in Brampton. We hope all local governments pursue similar initiatives to make their cities more inclusive and accessible for everyone,” said City of Brampton’s Interim Chief Administrative Officer Joseph Pittari.
According to Microsoft, Soundscape uses 3D audio, which means that the sounds are perceived as coming from the direction of the point of interest to provide users with information to help build a mental map of their surroundings and empower them to make their own navigational choices, thereby providing greater independence. The app calls out roads, intersections and landmarks as the user passes, aiding in discoverability. It has been designed to work with standard stereo headphones, headsets, ear-buds, audio-glasses and so on.
Soundscape also allows the user to mark anything they care about, for example, they can mark specific places, addresses, or their current location.
Soundscape uses Azure to manage the data it provides and requires no user identification or account to use it, therefore no user identifiable data is captured.
Microsoft has been working closely with the CNIB Foundation and Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada during the beta testing. Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada has been using Soundscape directly with its clients for five months and providing feedback on their growing confidence and independence.
“Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada is proud to have worked in consultation with Microsoft in bringing the Soundscape app to Canada. Our certified VLRC Specialists follow global standards in providing vision loss rehabilitation therapy to restore key daily living skills. Soundscape will support our work through exciting technology that delivers a new level of awareness of a person’s surroundings - thereby increasing mobility, safety and independence for our clients across the country,” said Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada’s Vice President Healthcare Operations Jennifer Urosevic.
Canada is the fourth country to launch Soundscape after the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
“Accessibility and inclusion are at the heart of who we are at Microsoft. I believe that technology has the potential to level the playing field for the more than 5 million Canadians living with disabilities,” said President of Microsoft Canada Kevin Peesker. “We are working with organizations like CNIB and the City of Brampton to help the 500,000 Canadians living with low or no vision gain independence in all parts of their lives to feel more included and connected to the world around them.”
According to Microsoft, there are more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide, yet around the world, only one in 10 people with disabilities have access to assistive technologies and products. Microsoft created Soundscape to enable a more natural and intuitive connection between blind and low vision users and their environment without disrupting their ability to attend to other tasks, activities or interactions.