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Auditory guidance with the Navbelt-a computerized travel aid for the blind

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3 Author(s)
Shoval, S. ; Fac. of Ind. Eng. & Manage., Technion-Israel Inst. of Technol., Haifa, Israel ; Borenstein, J. ; Koren, Y.

A blind traveler walking through an unfamiliar environment and a mobile robot navigating through a cluttered environment have an important feature in common: both have the kinematic ability to perform the motion, but they are dependent on a sensory system to detect and avoid obstacles. The paper describes the use of a mobile robot obstacle avoidance system as a guidance device for blind and visually impaired people. Just as electronic signals are sent to a mobile robot's motion controllers, auditory signals can guide the blind traveler around obstacles, or alternatively, they can provide an “acoustic image” of the surroundings. The concept has been implemented and tested in a new travel aid for the blind, called the Navbelt. The Navbelt introduces two new concepts to electronic travel aids (ETA's) for the blind: it provides information not only about obstacles along the traveled path, but also assists the user in selecting the preferred travel path. In addition, the level of assistance can be automatically adjusted according to changes in the environment and the user's needs and capabilities. Experimental results conducted with the Navbelt simulator and a portable experimental prototype are presented

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Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:28 ,  Issue: 3 )