A New Era for Soundscape

Soundscape Community in white writing next to graphic of headphones

by David Redmond

What is Soundscape Community?
We had a really exciting episode of Talking Technology this week as we revealed the first details of Soundscape Community.

In an NCBI Labs live event on the 4th of August 2021, Microsoft announced that their Soundscape app was coming to Ireland. However, just 495 days later, they announced that the app would be sunset and its code made open source. This meant it was up to developers to decide what happened next.

Back when this announcement was made it was devastating for avid users of the app. We had a chat in our Christmas special last year about the news, and it seemed very unclear what the future had in store.

What happened next though was really exciting, and an outcome that seemed far-fetched back in December. A consortium made up of NCBI (National Council of Blind Ireland), Inclusion and Accessibility Labs (IA Labs), and others came together to resurrect the app.

Introducing Soundscape Community
The new app is called Soundscape Community, and as we approach the launch the team joined us on the podcast to tell us all about it.

Jarnail Chudge, who some may remember from the original Soundscape team told us that when Microsoft made the decision to end Soundscape, this had implications for the team working on it. Jarnail left Microsoft in February, but continued to work on a solution to ensure continuity of the app he had co-founded and developed over a decade. He reached out to a number of the apps biggest supporters, and before long Soundscape Community was born. It’s been a crazy story already, with Jarnail also revealing a merger with OpenScape, leading to the two teams coming together to build a better Soundscape for everyone.

The app will have the same interface as the old app, unlike VoiceVista which uses a redesigned interface. There are advantages to both approaches, but at least now users will have a bit more choice around what works for them.

While no launch date was confirmed by the group it’s understood that this will happen soon. It’s exciting times ahead for Soundscape so it will be interesting to see how things play out.

If you want to learn more about this it’s well worth checking out the podcast below. Thanks again to Aoife and Jarnail for joining us, and best wishes with this exciting new era for Soundscape.

Talking Technology is available wherever you get your podcasts, on the NCBI Labs YouTube Channel, and live every second Tuesday via Microsoft Teams and the NCBI Live radio service.

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