Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

A Navigation Aid for Blinds using Stereo Vision and Vibrotactile Interface

Abhay Sharma, Ajay Mittal


The population of visually impaired people is increasing rapidly in India as well as in world. Many electronic travel aids for vision substitution in blinds were introduced in past twenty years. However, India is still lacking a realistic and low cost commercial solution that can provide portability and ease of use. This paper is aimed at discussing one such practical approach to building a real-time navigation aid for blinds while explaining our custom built research prototype. The vision substitution prototype discussed in this paper consists of a stereo vision based range finding system to detect obstacles, a bind computer interface built using vibrotactile interface for real time interactions with the user and a processing unit for meaningful transformation of obstacle distances into vibration alerts. This paper will discuss both hardware construction and software implementation along with various testing and experimentation scenarios that were carried out to validate the applicability of this prototype.


Blind Navigation, Visually Impaired, Vibrotactile, Haptic, Stereo Vision, Blinds, Vision Substitution, Eta

Full Text:



Dimitrios Dakopoulos and Nikolaos Bourbakis, ―Towards a 2D Tactile Vocabulary for Navigation ofBlind and Visually Impaired‖, Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics San Antonio, TX, USA - October 2009.

C. Wall III and M.S. Weinberg, ―Balance prostheses for postural control,‖ IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, Vol. 22, Issue 2, pp. 84-90, March-April 2003.

R. Traylor and H.Z. Tan, ―Development of a wearable haptic display for situation awareness in altered-gravity environment: some initial findings,‖ Proceedings of the 10th Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environments and Teleoperator Systems, pp. 159-164, 2002.

A.H. Rupert, ―An instrumentation solution for reducing spatial disorientation mishaps,‖ IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 71-80, March-April 2000.

L.A. Jones, M. Nakamura and B. Lockyer, ―Development of a tactile vest,‖ Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems, pp. 82-89, 2004.

Tsukada, K. and Yasumura, M., ―ActiveBelt: belt-type wearable tactile display for directional navigation,‖ N. Davies et al. (Eds.), UbiComp 2004: Ubiquitous Computing, LNCS 3205, pp. 384-399, 2004.

S. Ertan, C. Lee, A. Willets, H. Tan and A. Pentland, ―A wearable haptic navigation guidance system,‖ Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Wearable Computers, pp. 164-165, 1998.

S. Brewster and L.M. Brown, ―Tactons: structured tactile messages for non-visual information display,‖ Proceedings of the 5th conference on Australasian User Interface, Vol. 28, pp. 15-23, 2004.

J. M. Loomis and S. J. Lederman, Handbook of Perception and Human Performance: Tactual Perception. New York: Wiley, 1986.

S. Coren and L. Ward, Sensation and Perception, 3rd ed. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.

EXOS, Co., ―Sensing and force reflecting Exoskeleton (SAFiRE) specifications,‖ company brochure, Woburn, MA.

G. Burdea, Force and Touch Feedback for Virtual Reality. New York: Wiley, 1996.

G. Burdea, J. Zhuang, E. Roskos, D. silver, adn N. Langrana, ―A portable dextrous master with force feedback,‖ Presence—Teleoperators and Virtual Environments. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Mar. 1992.

M. M. Minsky, ―Computational haptics: The sandpaper system for synthesizing texture with a force-feedback haptic display,‖ Ph.D. dissertation of philosophy, Massachusetts Inst. Technol., Cambridge, MA, 1995.

B. Jackson and L. Rosenberg, ―Force feedback and medical simulation,‖ in Iteractive Technology and the New Paradigm for Healthcare, K. Morgan, R. Satava, H. Sieburg, R. Mattheus, and J. Christensen, Eds. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: IOS Press, Jan. 1995.

M. Minsky, O. Ming, O. Steele, F. P. Brooks, and M. Behensky, ―Feeling and seeing: Issues in force display,‖ in Proc. Comput. Graph., Symp. 3D Real-Time Interactive Graphics. Snowbird, UT: ACM, 1990.

K. Hirota and M. Hirose, ―Simulation and presentation of curved surface in virtual reality environment through surface display,‖ in Proc. IEEE Virtual Reality Annu. Int. Symp. Research Triangle Park, NC: IEEE Computer Society Press, Mar. 1995.

F. P. Brooks, Jr., M. Ouh-Young, J. J. Batter, and P. J. Kilpatrick, ―Project GROPE-haptic displays for scientific visualization,‖ in Proc. 17th Annu. ACM Conf. Comput. Graph. and Interactive Techniques—SIGGRAPH’90, Computer Graphics. New York: ACM, Aug. 1990.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.