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Sonification of range information for 3-D space perception

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4 Author(s)
Milios, E. ; Fac. of Comput. Sci., Dalhousie Univ., Halifax, NS, Canada ; Kapralos, B. ; Kopinska, A. ; Stergiopoulos, S.

We present a device that allows three-dimensional (3-D) space perception by sonification of range information obtained via a point laser range sensor. The laser range sensor is worn by a blindfolded user, who scans space by pointing the laser beam in different directions. The resulting stream of range measurements is then converted to an auditory signal whose frequency or amplitude varies with the range. Our device differs from existing navigation aids for the visually impaired. Such devices use sonar ranging whose primary purpose is to detect obstacles for navigation, a task to which sonar is well suited due to its wide beam width. In contrast, the purpose of our device is to allow users to perceive the details of 3-D space that surrounds them, a task to which sonar is ill suited, due to artifacts generated by multiple reflections and due to its limited range. Preliminary trials demonstrate that the user is able to easily and accurately detect corners and depth discontinuities and to perceive the size of the surrounding space.

Published in:

Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 4 )