Today, Microsoft Research announced that it will discontinue development of Soundscape, a navigational app for visually-impaired people. The company plans to make the app’s code open-source on January 3rd, 2023.
Soundscape is not a conventional turn-by-turn direction app, as people with visual impairments would have trouble following a map on a small display. Rather, it harnesses the power of augmented reality and three-dimensional audio to guide people to points of interest in unfamiliar settings.
However, the current Soundscape app won’t be going away immediately, you can still download it from the iOS store until January 3rd, and it will remain functional until the end of June 2023. And the Microsoft Azure services that enable Soundscape will still be supported by the company throughout that period.
In the Microsoft Research Blog post that announced the end of Soundscape development, the company stated that “it is natural to end or transition some projects.” And that “We feel the community can benefit from the novel experiences we developed for the Soundscape research project” as the reason for making the source code publicly available.
The release of Soundscape as open-source technology means that anyone can continue the work Microsoft Research began in 2017. The company plans to release the code on GitHub. However, since the current research project only works on iOS, the open-source code will only be compatible with that platform.
Source: Microsoft Research Blog