A Novel Application of Information Communication Technology to Assist Visually Impaired People

A Novel Application of Information Communication Technology to Assist Visually Impaired People

Tee Zhi Heng (The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Malaysia), Ang Li Minn (The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Malaysia) and Seng Kah Phooi (The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-101-6.ch311
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Abstract

This chapter presents a novel application for wireless technology to assist visually impaired people. As an alternative to the medical model of rehabilitation, the information explosion era provides the foundation for a technological solution to lead the visually impaired to more independent lives in the community by minimizing the obstacles of living. A “SmartGuide” caregiver monitoring system is built as a standalone portable handheld device linked. The objective of this system is to assist blind and low vision people to walk around independently especially in dynamic changing environments. Navigation assistance is accomplished by providing speech guidance on how to move to a particular location. The system delivers dynamic environmental information to lead the visually impaired to more independent lives in the community by minimizing the obstacles of living. Information of changing environments such as road blockage, road closure, and intelligent navigation aids is provided to the user in order to guide the user safely to his or her destination. This system also includes a camera sensor network to enhance monitoring capabilities for an extra level of security and reliability.
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Background

A typical guidance system consists of three components: Input Component, Processing Component and Output Component. The input component includes information sources to be used by the system which is normally made up by analog/digital sensors, instructions and raw data. The processing component is made up by one or more microcontrollers that utilized the data obtained from the input components to further process the data. Data is processed by using a pre programmed algorithm to calculate further subsequent actions and maintain proper heading. The output component is the component that directly affects the system’s velocity and heading. For example, engine control unit, and actuators that will affect the system's overall course.

Several researchers have proposed technological solutions using RFID and GPS technology to assist visually impaired people (D’Atri et al., 2007; Chang, et al., 2005; Ran, Helal & Moore, 2004; BrailleNote, n.d.; Cardin, Thalmann & Vexo, 2007). Amongst the assistive systems which have been reported are SESAMONET (D’Atri et al., 2007), iCane (Chang, et al., 2005), Drishti (Ran, Helal & Moore, 2004), BrailleNote (n.d.) GPS and Werable Systems(Cardin, Thalmann & Vexo, 2007).

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