Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Using Kinect to Aid the Visually Impaired Navigate Indoor Environments

AVI - Navigational Aids for the Visually Imparied - aims to use the Kinect as a means of detecting the surroundings of an individual who is visually impaired in order to easily navigate indoor environments. The technology and set up involves using a Kinect camera strapped to a helmet that sends data captured from ones surroundings to a computer that produces vibrotactile feedback to a waistbelt which in turn assists with navigating around a rooms layout.

…depth information from the Kinect is mapped by our software onto three pairs of Arduino LilyPad vibration motors located at the left, center and right of the waist. These pairs of vibration motors are hot glued into a fabric waist belt and connected to an Arduino 2009 board. 

To increase the impact of the vibration motor they were put into the cap of a plastic bottle. The Arduino in the waist belt is connected via usb to a laptop that was mounted onto a special backpack-construction, which has holes for cables and fan.

By using several markers of the AR-Toolkit positioned in a room, they are able to provide tactile feedback to the user that maps out specific routes while indoors, assisting visually impaired people to navigate new areas without using a traditional "white cane"

The markers are tracked continuously all along the way and our software provides synthesized auditory navigation instructions for the person. These navigation instructions vary based on the distance of the person to the marker (which we get from Kinect's depth camera).

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