Supporting Navigation of Outdoor Shopping Complexes for Visually-impaired Users through Multi-modal Data Fusion

Archana Paladugu, Parag S. Chandakkar, Peng Zhang, Baoxin Li

Outdoor shopping complexes (OSC) are extremely difficult for people with visual impairment to navigate. Existing GPS devices are mostly designed for roadside navigation and seldom transition well into an OSC-like setting. We report our study on the challenges faced by a blind person in navigating OSC through developing a new mobile application named iExplore. We first report an exploratory study aiming at deriving specific design principles for building this system by learning the unique challenges of the problem. Then we present a methodology that can be used to derive the necessary information for the development of iExplore, followed by experimental validation of the technology by a group of visually impaired users in a local outdoor shopping center. User feedback and other experiments suggest that iExplore, while at its very initial phase, has the potential of filling a practical gap in existing assistive technologies for the visually impaired.

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