GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- University of Florida researchers have wedded speech recognition software, wearable computers, satellite positioning technology and other emerging technologies in a 21st-century navigational aid for the blind.
Composed of a waist-worn computer and headset connected remotely to a map database server, the prototype delivers and responds to instructions verbally. It keeps track of the user's location while giving directions to a destination and may even warn the user against veering off a sidewalk or stepping into a road.
"When we started this project, we were looking for a compelling mobile application of wearable computing that would be not just for fun from a research perspective, but also useful to society," said Steve Moore, who designed the system for his master's degree in computer science and engineering.
Computer engineering Professor Sumi Helal and civil and coastal engineering doctoral student Balaji Ramachandran also helped with the project, which the researchers named DRISHTI, after the Sanskrit word for vision. While in the early stages, the system is a promising attempt to address the difficult problem of helping the blind get around in a world designed for sighted people. Nationwide, about 1.1 million people suffer from blindness.
Speaking into the microphone, the user tells the system his location and where he or she wants to go for example, from the UF student union to the computer science building. The system responds with directions based on the user's starting point, saying, for example, to turn 15 degrees and walk along a sidewalk for 230 feet. If the user veers off the sidewalk or travels too far, the system provides a verbal correction. It also may warn against impediments or hazards, such as picnic tables or streets.
To achieve such contextual real-time directions, the system relies on numerous hardware and software components, both mobile and fixed.
In addition to the headset, a blind persoPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Steve Moore
University of Florida
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