Microsoft Soundscape

Microsoft Soundscape

A map delivered in 3D sound

Get the Soundscape App

What is Soundscape?

Microsoft Soundscape is a research project that explores the use of innovative audio-based technology to enable people, particularly those with blindness or low vision, to build a richer awareness of their surroundings, thus becoming more confident and empowered to get around. Unlike step-by-step navigation apps, Soundscape uses 3D audio cues to enrich ambient awareness and provide a new way to relate to the environment. It allows you to build a mental map and make personal route choices while being more comfortable within unfamiliar spaces.

How does Soundscape work?

Soundscape provides information about your surroundings with synthesized binaural audio, creating the effect of 3D sound. It can run in the background in conjunction with navigation or other applications to provide you with additional context about the environment. Your phone, in hand or in pocket, tracks movement using location and activity sensors, and lets you move toward a self-set audio beacon. Soundscape runs on iPhone SE, iPhone 6S or later and is compatible with most wired or Bluetooth stereo headsets.

An illustration of an iPhone with the Soundscape app logo on the screen and a headset with sound waves coming from the left and right.

Getting started with Soundscape

When you first install Soundscape, you’ll want to connect a stereo headset or earbuds. Follow the introduction and when prompted, allow the app to access your location. Then, explore a familiar route to get used to how Soundscape delivers spatial information.

An illustration of a person's path taken while exploring with sound call outs along the way.

Explore, discover, and have fun!

You can use Soundscape in a number of different ways, whether on a well-known route, out about with a friend or using it to discover new places.

An illustration of comment bubbles, light bulbs, and question marks.

Come on the journey with us…

Our user trials show that Soundscape can help reduce levels of stress and anxiety, giving people with sight loss more confidence when they’re out and about in an urban environment. But because Soundscape reflects a new concept, it will take a little time to get used to it, and we need your feedback on how to make it better and more useful.

We work together with

Guide Dogs UK logo
Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired logo

Guide Dogs for the Blind North America logo
Visual Australia logo

Get the Soundscape app for iOS devices

Download it from the App Store