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Independent discovery through 3D audio: a map delivered in sound

You may have already heard of this on the grapevine or via the Herts Ad or social media – it’s a project that two locals are behind who are basically looking to create a navigation aid, primarily to help visually impaired visitors explore the city more easily. This is an independent project, which the Museums are supporting by hosting the workshops and connecting them with local groups who could support them.

Microsoft have worked with Guide Dogs to develop a new app called ‘Soundscape’ (currently available on iphones). The app gives you a sort of narration to help you orientate yourself and move from A to B. It takes all of its information from a map called ‘Open Street Map’ (similar to Google Maps) pinpointed with audio cues to help map out landmarks and points of interest. The easiest way to get to grips with what it means is to watch one of the videos below which give a flavour of what could do and how powerful it can be if the underlying info is well put-together.

They are currently are looking for people with local knowledge who can help add local information to the map data to help improve the information for central St Albans which is the first stage in creating something that people could use locally.

You don’t have to be a techy wizz, but just be able to use something similar to Google Maps and be able to use your local knowledge to check or add names of shops, landmarks and attractions to the map. In this first session on Friday 30th they are looking at tourism and leisure-related locations.

Please pass the invitation on to anyone else you think may be interested.

Invitation to a mapathon to support St Albans Unlocked
Friday 30 November 10am – 12.30, St Albans Museum + Gallery

We’re aiming to bring a new technology, 3D audio, to support the visually impaired in more independent exploration. 

Imagine a day out in St Albans - experiencing our 21st century vibrant city steeped in history. There are many people living with sight loss in Hertfordshire and beyond, for whom taking a trip to shops or visiting a tourist attraction is stressful and has to be pre-planned activity.  St Albans Unlocked aims to make this experience more one of independent discovery.

Soundscape relies on crowd-sourced location data on Open Street Map (like a version of Google Maps) – which can be out-of-date or incomplete. We’re aiming to build a richer, accurate 3D audio picture of St Albans.

Mapathon on Friday 30 November

They are looking for people with local knowledge to view and check the Open Street Map (OSM) St Albans data but also to update it where it is incorrect or missing. Anyone interested in coming to the meeting should:

  1. Sign up to Open Street Map beforehand so that you have a user name and password 
  2. Bring your own laptop to use during the session (it works best on a laptop rather than a tablet).

>> If you are interested in being kept in the loop, but unable to attend the session (or are unable to bring a laptop), do still get in touch with them to express your interest.

If you are interested in attending, please let them know by Friday 23 November.
RSVP to Linda Chandler  and Amanda Derrick

If you’ve got any questions or suggestions, do get in touch with Linda and Amanda directly.