Microsoft has been conducting secret UK trials of a wearable computer to rival Google Glass.

Instead of spectacles, the device takes the form of a wearable band, which delivers information and instructions through an earpiece.

It was initially developed to help blind people "see", but experts believe it could prove popular with a wider range of people.

Shops, railway stations, museums and a range of other public spaces could be connected to the network within three years, providing information to allow people to navigate.

A group of eight blind people in Reading, Berkshire, will be the first to test the device.

Tim Gebbels has tested prototypes of the device for the Guide Dogs charity, and told the Sunday Times that the headset will enable him to find his way around cities "as easily as anybody else".

Microsoft is working on the project alongside the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and Guide Dogs UK.

Tesco, Barclays, Costa Coffee, First Great Western and First Group are among the companies involved in the project.

The consortium said: "The short term goal is to make the city more accessible and enjoyable for people with sight loss, by using new technologies.

"The longer term project is to … revolutionise the urban experience for everyone, through more effective collaboration and innovation."

Under the system, the user is tracked step by step, allowing them to receive personalised instructions.

One source linked to the project told the paper: "The system can be as simple or complex as you want it to be."

It works by chanelling information on sensors in public areas through the headset.

Information it provides has been helping blind people navigate Reading's train station, or find their way around complex buildings and public spaces.

If the results from the tests are positive, a further round of tests will take place next year, in which Transport for London is expected to take part.