Microsoft Soundscape – New Horizons with a Community-Driven Approach

For more than six years, Microsoft Research has been honored to develop the Soundscape research project, which was designed to deliver information about a person’s location and points of interest and has guided individuals to desired places and in unfamiliar spaces using augmented-reality and three-dimensional audio. While not a traditional turn-by-turn navigation mobile app, the Soundscape research project allowed us to explore ways that audio can enhance mobility and expand navigation experiences without the need to follow directions on a small display.

Beginning January 3, 2023, the Soundscape code will be available as open-source software, so that anyone can continue to build on, and find new ways to leverage, this novel feature set for the growing navigation opportunities in today’s world. As Microsoft Research continues to expand into new accessibility innovation areas, we hope the open-source software release of the Soundscape code supports the community in further developing confidence and utility of spatial audio navigation experiences.

Also on January 3, 2023, the Microsoft Soundscape iOS app will no longer be available for download from the App Store, although existing installations can continue to be used until the end of June 2023. We are grateful to all of those who have tried and found value in the Microsoft Soundscape app and appreciate all the feedback and stories you have shared with us over the years.

Through the Microsoft Soundscape journey, we were delighted to discover the many valuable experiences Soundscape enabled, from empowering mobility instructors, to understanding the role of audio in adaptive sports, to supporting blind or low-vision individuals to go places and do essential activities for their lives. By making the Soundscape code available as open-source software, we hope the interest and potential continues to grow. Documentation on how to build and use the system from the new GitHub Soundscape page will be shared on January 3, 2023.

Frequently asked questions on Soundscape

Q: What is changing for Microsoft Soundscape?
A: It is now time to transition the Soundscape research project to the next phase, where we will share it to allow for broader development. Soundscape code will be available on GitHub as open-source software on January 3, 2023.

Q: What will happen to the Microsoft Soundscape app on iOS?
A: As of January 3, 2023, the app will not be available for download. Existing installations can continue to be used until the end of June 2023.

Q: Will the Azure services that enable the Microsoft Soundscape app continue to be supported?
A: Yes, until the end of June 2023. Beyond that, entities can build new cloud-based services from our open-source release.

Q: Will user feedback on the Microsoft Soundscape app continue to work?
A: Yes, until the end of June 2023. We will focus on bug fixes and repairing service disruptions, but we will not address requests for new features or capabilities.

Q: Will the Soundscape open-source release run only on iOS, or will it also support Android?
A: The original Microsoft Soundscape app only supports iOS, and that is also true for the open-source release.

Q: Why has Microsoft Research decided to release Soundscape as open-source?
A: As we evolve our research portfolio, it is natural to end or transition some projects. We feel the community can benefit from the novel experiences we developed for the Soundscape research project, and that is why we are releasing the code as open-source software.

Q: What will happen to the Microsoft Soundscape Authoring app?
A: Use of the Microsoft Soundscape Authoring app will end on January 17, 2023.

Q: Are other Microsoft offerings implicated in this change for Soundscape or following a similar path at this time?
A: No, this change is specific to Soundscape. There is no impact or implication on other Microsoft offerings.

The post Microsoft Soundscape – New Horizons with a Community-Driven Approach appeared first on Microsoft Research.

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