PROJECT BRIEF

Introduction to Celebral Evidence

There is a continuing need for a portable, practical, and highly functional navigation aid for people with vision loss. This includes temporary loss, such as firefighters in a smoke-filled building, and long term or permanent blindness. In either case, the user needs to move from place to place, avoid obstacles, and learn the details of the environment. An audio-only interface can be very helpful to guide the listener along a path, while at the same time indicating the location or other important features in the environments.
The objective of this project is to build a navigation system that combines indoor navigation technology and audition. Indoor navigation technology can locate people and assets using augmented reality kit, Bluetooth beacons, etc. Audition can provide direction for navigation and produce the most precise localization besides vision.
The total control of the environment dramatically reduces safety concerns that are paramount in real-life navigation without vision. The system will help visually impaired individuals navigate themselves in real-world indoor environments. It may also help first responders (like fire-fighters) navigate without vision in critical situations. Besides, it is assistive not only for low vision, but also increase indoor navigating efficacy and efficiency for normal vision circumstances. Without relying on vision while navigating, the users will have better autonomy in multitasking scenarios.

SYSTEM DESIGN

Features & Technology Feasibility

        The system we built is a wearable auditory interior navigation system. It has an AR mobile application, and a bluetooth bone conduction headphone. When users open the application, they are able to see the 3D map of the building they are currently in. There are semi-transparent green cylinders, which stands for the waypoints that map out the route to help with the navigation. They would hear a spatialized sound from the bone conduction headphone that directs them to the waypoint. As they are approaching the waypoint, the tempo of the sound would become faster and faster. When they reach the waypoint, they would hear a check sound as a confirmation. In this way, they are able to locate and find the waypoints without visual aid. The system includes the following features: front-to-back disambiguation, waypoint navigation via proximity-based tempo mapping of audio cues, real-world indoor navigation.
        It mainly utilizes the technology of Unity ARKit and indoor 3D modeling. We used Sketchup to build 3D model of the building that we want to conduct tests in. Then we imported the model into Unity, then added waypoints and audio cues to different locations of the building. Finally we built the application on IOS smartphone.

        Research questions we explored in this project are:
      • What sound tempo would be most natural and easy for users to perceive?
      • How would the two variables:
        (a) the number of waypoints and
        (b) density of environment sounds influence people’s perceptions of the audio cues.

PILOT TESTING

Scene Set Up

Unity Development Phase

Future Research Plan

Measures, Metrics & Further Testing

      In future, we plan to build different versions of the prototype and recruit more participants to do the tests. We want to build the versions based on two manipulations: “environment complexity”, which includes both falloff and how many non-waypoint sounds are enabled; and “waypoint density”, which is whether waypoints are far apart, or close together. We want to include these two variables because we are interested in the different performance trade offs present. If we include few waypoints in the model, we rely on the environment sounds to help with obstacle avoidance; or we can also include many waypoints to guarantee users can take an optimal path, but the sounds might be annoying. So the matrix of the testing variables would be like:
      Many waypoints Few waypoints
      High density of environment sounds
      Low density of environment sounds

        In addition to these two variables, we also need to have four different courses in different parts of the building with roughly the same number of objects and waypoints in order to get more unbiased results. In total we will have 16 versions of the prototype because we will have four courses for each of the combinations shown in the above matrix. Participants can start in slightly different parts of the building, but each should generally cover the same sorts of areas, and should have (a) the same number of waypoints and (b) approximately the same distance traveled. We plan to recruit 20 participants for initial testings, then recruit more participants if the initial testings show promising results.

        Besides conducting more tests on different versions of current prototype, the study can be brought further by developing and integrating more accurate indoor location technology. The current prototype sometimes has drifts when user walks. The performance would be greatly improved if the location of the user can be more precisely tracked.

Video

Project Demo