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Boffins create everyday Bluetooth audio guide

"And on your left is a Starbucks"

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A simple stroll around the block will one day be enhanced by an interactive audio guide of local sights, shop offers and more. That’s if a prototype Bluetooth-based technology gets off the ground.

Talking Points was invented by boffins at the University of Michigan and is designed to feed verbal information to Bluetooth-enabled users as they go about their daily business.

Each user wears a wireless receiver – the prototype's about the size of a paperback book – that can receive Bluetooth signals from nearby beacons. These are located at points of interest and feed specially created audio guides through to a headset worn by the user.

For example, if you were walking through central London wearing the kit then it would be able to give you a short blast of information about St Paul’s cathedral. Potentially, it could also take you on, say, a guided tour of Jack the Ripper’s murderous haunts and tell you about where and how each gruesome event took place.

Businesses would also be able to purchase one of the required beacons, which could cost as little as $20 (£11/€14), and inform passers-by about special offers inside shops.

James Knox, one of Talking Points developers, said the idea is to enhance a person’s journey. But he admitted that, initially, it could be used by blind people to give them an audio guide of both local sights and potential dangers, such as road crossings.

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