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This paper presents a new concept for a travel aid for the blind. A prototype device, called the NavBelt, was developed to test this concept. The device can be used as a primary or secondary aid, and consists of a portable computer, ultrasonic sensors, and stereophonic headphone. The computer applies navigation and obstacle avoidance technologies that were developed originally for mobile robots. The computer then uses a stereophonic imaging technique to process the signals from the ultrasonic sensors and relays their information to the user via stereophonic headphones. The user can interpret the information as an acoustic "picture" of the surroundings, or, depending on the operational mode, as the recommended travel direction. The acoustic signals are transmitted as discrete beeps or continuous sounds. Experimental results with the NavBelt simulator and a portable prototype show that users can travel safely in an unfamiliar and cluttered environment at speeds of up to 0.8 m/s.