Better than GPS
WaveOut is based on complex, state-of-the-art technology. It uses spatial audio that Hugo says is more accurate than GPS. This type of audio simulates how humans perceive sound in three dimensions—it’s the reason we know where to look when someone calls out to us.
“When you’re following your GPS, it will tell you: ‘Walk 100 metres and turn left,’” Hugo says. But not everyone can correctly identify 100 metres or know where to turn. “Is it this street? That street? And then you only get feedback when you fail.”
With the waveOut app, people enter an address, point their phone camera straight ahead, then hear a gentle tone that leads from point to point and ultimately to the destination. Users can save searches and directions, know exactly where they are at any moment, and explore places around them with the app.
WaveOut works with any type of headphone that leaves the ears open to ambient noise. It prioritises navigation over warning about obstacles, since white canes are better adapted to that.
Aware of their surroundings
Hugo developed the app with input from more than 120 blind and visually impaired people. One of these was Daniele Marano, project manager of the Austrian Association in Support of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Daniele says waveOut “is the first attempt to navigate people through this technology, with this approach. I haven’t seen something like this before. There are lots of apps that pretend to navigate blind people, but at the end of the day they are an adaptation of Google Maps.”