Virtual Environment to Evaluate Multimodal Feedback Strategies for Augmented Navigation of the Visually Impaired

Abstract— This paper proposes a novel experimental environ- ment to evaluate multimodal feedback strategies for augmented navigation of the visually impaired. The environment consists of virtual obstacles and walls, an optical tracking system and a simple device with audio and vibrotactile feedback that interacts with the virtual environment, and presents many advantages in terms of safety, flexibility, control over exper- imental parameters and cost. The subject can freely move in an empty room, while the position of head and arm are tracked in real time. A virtual environment (walls, obstacles) is randomly generated, and audio and vibrotactile feedback are given according to the distance from the subjects arm to the virtual walls/objects. We investigate the applicability of our environment using a simple, commercially available feedback device. Experiments with unimpaired subjects show that it is possible to use the setup to ”blindly” navigate in an unpredictable virtual environment. This validates the environment as a test platform to investigate navigation and exploration strategies of the visually impaired, and to evaluate novel technologies for augmented navigation.

Published in:
2010 Annual International Conference Of The Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society (Embc), 975-978
Presented at:
32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC'10) , Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 1- 4, 2010.
Ieee Service Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Po Box 1331, Piscataway, Nj 08855-1331 Usa

 Record created 2010-06-30, last modified 2018-01-28

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