Microsoft introduced an improved version of virtual reality for the blind. In it, users can move a virtual cane not only in the horizontal plane but also raise and lower it. This allowed almost all test participants to pass the required site without collisions, the report said Microsoft Research.
For the first time, the corporation introduced virtual reality for blind and visually impaired people in 2018 – it was called Canetroller. The main element of the system is a cane, with the help of which the user contacts the environment and determines the presence of obstacles in it.
A vibration motor is mounted in the cane, which makes it stop when it collides with an obstacle. When in contact with a particular type of surface, the system transmits its specific sound to the user – for example, how steps sound when walking on paving slabs or on asphalt.
The main limitation of the system was that the cane could only be moved in a horizontal plane. This greatly complicated navigation in a large space.
In the new version, researchers have expanded the possibilities of the cane – now it can be moved both horizontally and vertically, as well as pull to itself. This, according to the developers, not only expanded the range of interactions but also allowed to put the cane perpendicular to the ground.
The new system allows you to simulate contact with various surfaces using a vibrator mounted in the cane and pre-recorded sound.