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Intelligent Headset aims to immerse users in augmented reality of sound and space

September 19, 2013 | Telepresence Options

Intelligent Headset

Story and images by Heidi Hoopes / Gizmag

Intelligent Headset aims to immerse users in augmented reality of sound and space

Running down an alley you make out the low growls of a zombie approaching distinctly above you and to the right. Touring a famous city you get lost, happen upon a fascinating art exhibit, and touch your headphones to find out where you are and what you see. Intelligent Headset hopes to create these augmented reality scenarios with its GPS-enabled 3D audio headset and a complementary suite of smartphone apps that entertain, educate, and always know where you're at.

Hardware in the headset combines 3D audio, GPS, and head tracking to create an augmented reality of both sound and space. A compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer track how a user is moving and in which direction they're looking. A button centered on the outside of the earpiece allows the wearer to trigger an action within an app, whether shooting in a game or indicating an interest in learning about what's in front of them. Someone in one of the company's demo videos even used the headset's tracking features to steer a quadcopter, causing the toy to bob and weave as his own head moved in three dimensions.

Half a dozen apps have currently been prototyped, some based on partnerships with Clio Online and HearPlanet for educational and tourism content. The educational app KnowledgeX simulates different immersive backdrops, engaging the user through 3D audio soundtracks. UrbanX allows tourists to meander through a city, using the buttons on the headset to prompt information about the point of interest they're currently looking at.

Third-party apps will also be important. Intelligent Headset recently opened its developer portal and gave access to a snap-on module which approximates the real device for programming purposes.

One of the anticipated uses is to further augment the senses for those who might especially need it, the blind. The headset made a debut at the DHL Relay Race in Copenhagen on the ears of blind runners. Often runners with visual impairments need to run with a guide runner, but those wearing the Intelligent Headset were fed 3D audio cues about the proximity of other runners.

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