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Ultrasonic Echolocation Device for Assisting the Visually Impaired

[ Vol. 16 , Issue. 5 ]

Author(s):

Ben Mick, Nathan Reddmann, Rayyan Manwar and Kamran Avanaki*   Pages 601 - 610 ( 10 )

Abstract:


Background: Echolocation is a technique whereby the location of objects is determined via reflected sound. Currently, some visually impaired individuals use a form of echolocation to locate objects and to orient themselves. However, this method takes years of practice to accurately utilize.

Aims: This paper presents the development of a sensory substitution device for visually impaired users, which gauged distances and the placement of objects.

Methods: Using ultrasonic technology, the device employed a method of echolocation to increase the user's independence and mobility. The main components of this device are an ultrasound transceiver and a miniaturized Arduino board. Through research and prototyping, this technology was integrated into a biomedical application in a watch form factor which provides feedback to the user regarding the measured distance by the ultrasonic transducer.

Results: The output of this process is a tactile feedback that varies in intensity proportional to the distance of the detected object. We tested the device in different scenarios including different distances from a different material. The difference between the device reading and the actual distance, from 0 to 400 cm was statistically insignificant.

Conclusion: It is believed this device will boost the confidence of the user in navigation.

Keywords:

Echolocation, haptic feedback, ultrasonic transducer, visually impaired, blind, navigation.

Affiliation:

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

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