Obstacle avoidance for blind people using a 3D camera and a haptic feedback sleeve

Manuel Zahn, Armaghan Ahmad Khan

Navigation and obstacle avoidance are some of the hardest tasks for the visually impaired. Recent research projects have proposed technological solutions to tackle this problem. So far most systems fail to provide multidimensional feedback while working under various lighting conditions. We present a novel obstacle avoidance system by combining a 3D camera with a haptic feedback sleeve. Our system uses the distance information of the camera and maps it onto a 2D vibration array on the forearm. In our functionality tests of the haptic feedback sleeve, users were able to correctly identify and localize 98,6% of single motor vibration patterns and 70% of multidirectional and multi-motor vibration patterns. The combined obstacle avoidance system was evaluated on a testing route in the dark, simulating a navigation task. All users were able to complete the task and showed performance improvement over multiple runs. The system is independent of lighting conditions and can be used indoors and outdoors. Therefore, the obstacle avoidance system demonstrates a promising approach towards using technology to enable more independence for the visually impaired.

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