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3-D Sound Navigational Aid for the Blind Based on Real-Time Sonar Range Measurements

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"3-D Sound Navigational Aid for the Blind Based on Real-Time Sonar Range Measurements", (2003)
Armando Barreto, Maroof Choudhury and Carlos Ordonez

ABSTRACT: This paper reports the design, implementation and evaluation of a real-time system that uses 3-D sound to inform a blind user of the location of obstacles around him/her and to provide a "spatial auditory beacon", indicating the North direction. The 3-D sounds are created through the use of Head-Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) implemented in a portable computer. The distance from the current location to the nearest obstacles in six directions around the user are measured by six sonar ranging modules, arranged radially on a headgear worn by the user. The system also incorporates a digital compass to continuously update the relative location of the North direction, around the user. The system is portable and completely battery-operated. The system has been verified by blind navigation tests on four subjects, yielding an average navigation efficiency of 93.1%.