I sent this message to the Microsoft Soundscape development team. I hope that
my suggestions will be taken into consideration by the development team and
also hope that they will be helpful to other blind users, not only to me
Here is the text of my email:
I tried Soundscape released by Microsoft for the iOS platform in Rockville MD
today. I find the idea of 3D audio to be interesting. However, the way the
first release of this app stands lacks flexibility and functionality.
Here what I suggest to make the app of more use to me as an independent blind
Three features need to be added in the future releases. The first is the
ability to add my own beacons based on GPS map Addresses. If I am in an
unfamiliar area and wish to choose a specific address as my destination, I
should be able to type in the address and use as a beacon, and discover my
surrounding while I am in my way to this destination. I am not suggesting a
turn by turn GPS navigation; there are a lot of apps available for turn by turn
The second suggestion which will enhance the usability and flexibility of
Soundscape will be to add a feature that enables the user to make their own
beacons based on the GPS coordinates of a specific location. This feature will
be extremely useful for blind students and employees in large college campuses
where the buildings do not show on GPS navigation maps, visually impaired
people living in large housing complexes, and people who wish to go for a walk
in public parks. For example, the user can make a beacon marking the entrance
to the university library, another marking the entrance to the cafeteria, and a
third beacon to mark the bus stop. I Work at the university of Maryland and
find navigating the large campus to be challenging. If I can make my own
marked beacons inside the campus, my life would be much easier. If I want to
go for a walk in a large park, I can make a beacon marking the entrance so that
I can find my way out of the park once I finish, I can also mark another point
inside the park to visit again in the future, and so on.
The third and final suggestion will be to add more flexibility by allowing me
to choose the radius of the area I want to explore, or how far ahead the points
of interest I need to know. While I walked in Rockville MD today, I tried to
find what points of interest were ahead of me, and what points are around me.
It gave me points which were over 800 yards away from me, some of them were
across a major highway. I find this kind of information to be unhelpful.
While I appreciate the idea of knowing points of interest preselected for me, I
should at least choose the distance of the points I want to know about. I
should be able to choose not to know about any points more than 200 or 300 feet
away from me should I choose to do so.
These are my first and immediate reactions to the Soundscape app. I hope they
will be taken into consideration when planning the future updates to this
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