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Blind-environment interaction through voice augmented objects


This article presents an Java-based mobile service that enables blind-environment interaction through voice-augmented objects. To make this possible, it is necessary to tag the object with an associated radio frequency identification and record its voice-based description. The blind users can later use the service to scan surrounding augmented objects and verbalize their identity and characteristics. We use a user centred design in order to guarantee the accessibility of the service for visually impaired and blind people. The required hardware is a near field communication-enabled mobile phone with built-in accelerometer. The client-side application does not require pushing any buttons, browsing any menus, or touching any screens to select and activate any of supported modes: registration, calibration, voice recording, physical object identification, delete voice recording(s), cloud-based file sync and share. Twelve visually impaired individuals (aged 31–84, 6 men and 6 women) have tested the service in two different scenarios: (1) a test based on comparison with a PenFriend labeling unit, and (2) a users’ experience test. The results show that selected tangible, multimodal interface (object touching, phone shaking and tilt, voice output) can be used very easily (58 %) or easily (33 %) by blind and visually impaired users who have had no previous experience with other mobile services. Most of participants from the test group agreed that the service could be useful for their daily activities. The service can be used both at home and in public buildings for voice description of objects such as food, medicines, books, clothes, cosmetics, CD/DVDs, rooms, etc.

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Correspondence to Rosen Ivanov.

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Ivanov, R. Blind-environment interaction through voice augmented objects. J Multimodal User Interfaces 8, 345–365 (2014).

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  • Object tagging
  • Blind and visually impaired
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Pervasive systems
  • NFC-enabled phones