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.
A few games have also been prototyped, including a zombie demo that was demonstrated to Gizmag at the company's IFA booth. Our tester had to turn to face approaching undead brain-munchers based on sound cues coming through the headphones, and then "shoot" them down using a button on the headset. A more complex prototype with missions, weapons, and teams could offer the challenge of a standard FPS in a real environment and the adrenaline rush of paintball without all the welts in the morning.
While it’s important to remember the screenshots provided by Intelligent Headset are only mockups, it’s also clear that for Intelligent Headset to develop a niche, it will need killer apps in addition to unobtrusive but immersive audio, accurate logistics, and even comfortable ergonomics, something the company seems to have anticipated.
Myself, I’m a junkie for augmented reality games and would love to see a sci-fi thriller offering with the Intelligent Headset. Leave a comment below and let us know what app would entice you to wear one.
Source: Intelligent Headset
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