Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Microsoft To Use Tech To Help The Disabled

Technology is getting to a stage where it will be a true aid for the disabled. Google have yet to realise the true potential of project Tango in aiding the disabled. However Microsoft are the latest company to try and improve quality of life as much as possible. Trailing a head band that will help the visually impaired navigate the world.

Microsoft’s break through ‘Alice Band’ will help the blind and visually impaired become much more independent. Using cutting edge technology to aid in navigating staircases, elevators and escalators. Currently being used by a group of eight blind people in Reading, UK

Microsoft have detailed the built-in Microsoft customised sensors. These all in one sensors that have been custom built to detect the proximity of surrounding objects. All of the information is processed by the band and then interpreted through audio signals to an earpiece worn by the user.

Microsoft Now

All of this information is dependent on specialised sensors installed all over the world around the user. Signals will need to ‘bounce off’ objects in order to map the surrounding world. Relying completely on installation of these sensors in every location. This may be plausible in the home, however systems such as Google project Tango does not require these installing. So is likely to stall adoption of Microsoft system.

The hope is that localised sensors will enable contextual information on the world around the user. Relaying information on journey time, any delays in transport expected and personalised instructions. Part of a much wider push by Microsoft into wearable technology. Including a much rumoured smart watch or even Google Glass rival.

Smart City

Microsoft new projects are made whilst working with Future Cities Catapult on a program called Cities Unlocked. The UK Government is putting in place incentives with several organisations to push into a new wave of ‘Smart Cities’.

The UK is also implementing internet of things (IoT) networks in major cities to welcome in the age of the wearable and smart objects. Granted this network is only rolling out in ten major cities in the UK to start, but will roll out nationwide. These will mirror such networks that have already been set up in other European countries such as France and Spain.

Internet Of Things

At the moment there are small numbers of connected devices. However forecasts from the likes of Ericsson have predicted there may be as many as 50billion ‘things’ connected to the internet by 2020. The network uses ‘ultra narrow’ band connectivity, due to the communications containing tiny amounts of data.

“It will essentially be a piece of work that’s similar to building a new mobile network, just using a slightly different technology” said Wendy McMillan, the head of the Arqiva’s frightening titled machine-to-machine services. They are hoping that building the network, and mirroring others globally, before things really take off will mean that that this protocol is the only one used.

The required infrastructure for all the smart things to communicate will be in place soon. Meaning the sky is the limit for integrating smart things into our lives. Making people with disabilities a priority is a great business model. As these are the people that really need the help to have a great quality of life.

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