A new Soundscape experience with Bose Frames

Microsoft Soundscape is a research project and mobile application that explores the use of innovative audio-based technology to enable people – particularly those who are blind or have low vision – to build a richer awareness of their surroundings, thus becoming more confident and empowered to get around.

Today we are delighted to announce that Microsoft Soundscape now supports Bose Frames, an audio wearable that combines the protection of sunglasses with the functionality and performance of wireless headphones.

Frames have a proprietary open-ear design that doesn’t block the wearer’s ears, allowing them to hear ambient environmental sounds – such as traffic and other people –while still hearing directions, music and other content streaming from a mobile device. Frames use a 9-axis head-motion sensor and the device’s GPS to provide audio information based on location and the direction the wearer is facing. Coupled with Microsoft Soundscape’s audio feedback and descriptions of one’s surroundings, Bose Frames offer the wearer an immersive and hands-free way to navigate the world around them.

Our ears are naturally very well attuned to three-dimensional (3D) sound. For example, when we hear a dog bark across the yard, we know exactly in which direction to look. In other words, when we listen, we instinctively make subtle head movements to locate the origin of the sound. The sensors embedded in Bose Frames allow Soundscape to sense those subtle head movements and help the wearer pinpoint the location of the ‘landmark’ using 3D audio cues generated by Soundscape, offering improved awareness of one’s environment and enhanced navigational support. Early testers of this experience have shared that this combination feels incredibly natural and makes them feel significantly more aware of their surroundings.

Our close collaboration with Bose is a key milestone for Soundscape’s journey to enhance one’s sense of independence when out and about by enhancing their perception of the environment around them with spatial 3D audio.

We look forward to what the future will bring with this new frontier of Audio AR experiences as Soundscape continues to push boundaries to empower people to do more.

As always, we can’t wait to hear what you make of this new experience so we encourage users to share their thoughts and questions directly with soundscapefeed@microsoft.com.

The amazing thing about Frames is the ability for them to know where a user is located and the direction they are facing. And based on that information from the head-motion sensor and GPS data from the user’s mobile device, we’re able to add a layer of audio from apps like Microsoft Soundscape that can create more meaningful connections between people and the world around them.

– Mehul Trivedi, senior category director, Bose consumer wearable devices