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A Training System of Orientation and Mobility for Blind People Using Acoustic Virtual Reality

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2 Author(s)
Seki, Y. ; Human Technol. Res. Inst., Nat. Inst. of Adv. Ind. Sci. & Technol. (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan ; Sato, T.

A new auditory orientation training system was developed for blind people using acoustic virtual reality (VR) based on a head-related transfer function (HRTF) simulation. The present training system can reproduce a virtual training environment for orientation and mobility (O&M) instruction, and the trainee can walk through the virtual training environment safely by listening to sounds such as vehicles, stores, ambient noise, etc., three-dimensionally through headphones. The system can reproduce not only sound sources but also sound reflection and insulation, so that the trainee can learn both sound location and obstacle perception skills. The virtual training environment is described in extensible markup language (XML), and the O&M instructor can edit it easily according to the training curriculum. Evaluation experiments were conducted to test the efficiency of some features of the system. Thirty subjects who had not acquired O&M skills attended the experiments. The subjects were separated into three groups: a no-training group, a virtual-training group using the present system, and a real-training group in real environments. The results suggested that virtual-training can reduce “veering” more than real-training and also can reduce stress as much as real training. The subjective technical and anxiety scores also improved.

Published in:

Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 1 )