Haptic Vision: Augmenting Non-visual Travel and Accessing Environmental Information at a Distance
Independent travel is essential to an individual’s ability to lead a healthy and successful life. For individuals who are blind and low vision, however, access to critical safety and way-finding information is limited to the objects within their immediate vicinity. Due to the versatility and information obtained through its use, the long white cane remains the most widely used method of non-visual travel. Non-visual travelers are able to use a cane to interrogate objects to obtain perceptual information allowing them to identify physical characteristics such as position, distance, texture, and slope, but only in close proximity. This work aims to augment current methods of non-visual travel to extend the distance at which a non-visual traveler can obtain information about their surroundings. We propose a relative mapping between the angular direction and distance of an object with respect to the orientation of the user, displayed using a two-dimensional matrix of haptic (vibrotactile) motors. A preliminary experiment revealed that blind and low vision subjects could identify objects and their angular direction and distance through the sense of touch.
KeywordsHaptics Sensory substitution Non-visual travel
This material is partially based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1069125.
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