Mixed Reality Indoor Navigation system for the Visually Impaired
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Walking is an essential means of transportation for humans. While walking to a destination, navigation through the environment requires prior knowledge of its surroundings. Different senses are used to acquire surrounding information, for creating the knowledge base as well as determining one's current location. Whereas sighted people primarily rely upon vision to acquire such information, individuals with visual impairments (VI) have to rely on the remaining senses such as touch and hearing that lead to a lower mobility.For individuals with VI navigating in a new environment independently is difficult and unsafe. This results in less social activity and less job and education opportunities. This dissertation presents and evaluates an indoor navigation and information system designed to accommodate requirements of individuals with VI. This system can be deployed cost effectively in any public place such as universities or airports. As part of this dissertation a large number of indoor human navigation systems and a number of outdoor and robot navigation systems were studied and analyzed to identify research issues for different aspects of such systems for individuals with VI. While the main focus of this dissertation was to develop a navigation system for individuals with VI, the system provided here can be adopted by navigation systems for sighted individuals as well.To evaluate our approach, we conducted three user studies with sighted users and users with VI. The initial user study was conducted to help us better understand the strategies and preferences of users with VI for indoor navigation. The second study evaluated the feasibility of our approach and comparison between the design of six alternative designs. The final study was conducted to evaluate the usability, efficiency, and accuracy of our system with users who were blind.