Microsoft’s Soundscape technology helps power Sony’s latest set of earbuds

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Microsoft and Sony appear to be competing at the upper echelon of the wireless headphone category with the Surface Headphones 2 and the Sony WH-100XM4’s going head-to-head, but the two found time to partner at the lower end with the new Sony LinkBuds experience.

According to Microsoft Research, the new Sony LinkBuds integrate Microsoft Soundscape into its audio experience.

Microsoft Soundscape is a product from Microsoft Research that explores the use of innovative audio-based technology to enable people to build a richer awareness of their surroundings, thus becoming more confident and empowered to get around. Unlike step-by-step navigation apps, Soundscape uses 3D audio cues to enrich ambient awareness and provide a new way to relate to the environment. It allows you to build a mental map and make personal route choices while being more comfortable within unfamiliar spaces. Soundscape is designed to be used by everyone and live in the background; therefore, feel free to use it in conjunction with other apps such as podcasts, audio books, email and even GPS navigation!

As mentioned by Microsoft Research, Soundscape is best for ambient sound profiles but it can also be used to set a homing beacon that can leverage spatial sound to help guide users, or it can help with familiarizing Soundscape callouts among other things.

Specifically, Soundscape creates an audio profile using synthesized binaural audio and 3D sound. When paired, apps and services that utilize area and location based environmental mapping via the sensors in a smartphone or tablet, users can follow the ambient beacons for hands and sight free navigation.

Apple iPhone SE, 6S and later make use of Soundscape technology as well as most wired and Bluetooth enabled devices.

For anyone interested, Microsoft Research is offering a free download of Soundscape to test out from its blog.