Categories: Technology

WWDC 2020 update: AirPods Pro Spatial Audio feature benefits the visually-impaired


The Spatial Audio feature on the AirPods Pro will be able to assist the blind in being more aware of his surrounding.

Last week’s WWDC 2020 was jam-packed with major software upgrades on the iPhone, iPad, and Macs. Apple also announced the initial change of the company to its own Apple Silicon. However, the biggest news for audiophiles was the Spatial Audio on the AirPods Pro.

When the feature rolls out, AirPods Pro users can enjoy a more immersive experience on any video content that they watch. Additionally, the wireless earphones also detect the physical position of the user to ensure a steady listening experience.

The movement tracking feature on Spatial Audio goes beyond just any viewing experience. This feature will help any user that has any form of visual impairment

AirPods Pro voice guide

Charlie Fink of Forbes discussed with Bradley Steinbach the perks that the spatial audio will bring for those that are visually challenged. Steinbach is a graduate student that centers on audio production for movies.

Steinback describes being visually impaired as a state where reliance on hearing is heightened. He said,

“Sit on a park bench.  Close your eyes.  Listen to the kids on the playground.  The joggers as they pass by.  The athletes playing basketball at the court on the other side of the park.  Your ears are tuned to give a sense of direction and distance in a three-dimensional environment.”

He added,

“If the navigation voice was enabled to utilize the encoding of Spatial Audio, it could give directions in a detailed, complex environment.”

Spatial Audio will come in quite handy for moving around. Any person that has problems seeing whether severe or not may be guided by voice navigation in airports, malls, or any public space.

Spatial Audio for video contents and gaming

The benefit of Spatial Audio in WWDC 2020 is for video content consumption. However, Fink says that its features can also translate into more immersive gaming. He used Niantic’s Pokemon Go as an example.

The game relies heavily on a user that moves around the actual physical world to catch Pokemons. Spatial Audio brings the entire gaming experience up a notch. When a user wears a pair of Apple’s wireless earphones, the software can help the user determine which direction to face for any hiding Pokemon.

As for video content, the value of the Spatial Audio is quite obvious. People are staying home and streaming videos more because of the pandemic. As such, there is a need for a better viewing experience starting with sound. Fortunately, Apple’s AirPods Pro is in this quest to fill that void.

Image from Peter Kotoff/Shutterstock

Steven Hung

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Steven Hung

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