Assistive Technology Blog

Using HoloLens Like A High Tech White Cane

Microsoft HoloLens, a self contained computer that you wear on your head, allows you to interact with the world around you. Although not officially released to the masses yet, developers have been creating apps for it for a long time, and there are close to 400 apps already available in the app store. (What is Hololens?) One such app, created recently, lets blind people use Hololens to navigate the space around them.

The use of it is pretty simple – As soon as the rays coming out of our eyes hit an object, a sound is emitted from HoloLens. The closer you get to the object, the louder the sound gets, and vice versa. The app can track obstruction/objects on both sides of the user, so if there is an object to the right, the right side of HoloLens would emit a different sound than the left. You can also assign different sounds to different objects so you have an understanding of what kind of objects surround you. If you want to know exactly how far you are from something, you just say “distance”, and the app speaks out exactly how far you are from it. 

Another cool feature that this app has (as seen in the video below) is that you can scan a flight of stairs and see how many steps there are. When a user moves their head in the upward direction of the stairs, the app makes a sound for each step it finds, thus telling the user the total number of steps they have to go up or down!

What you see in the video below looks rudimentary (and super cool!), but this app definitely has potential. Hopefully this developer (and others) will keep fine-tuning this app for everyone to use.