The Walking Straight Mobile Application: Helping the Visually Impaired Avoid Veering
Paneels, Sabrina A.
Blum, Jeffrey R.
Cooperstock, Jeremy R.
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The visually impaired community still faces many challenges with safely navigating their environment. They rely heavily on speech-based GPS in addition to their usual guiding help. However, GPS-based systems do not help with veering issues, which affect the ability of the visually impaired to maintain a straight path. Some research systems provide feedback intended to correct veering, but these tend to employ bulky, custom hardware. In response, we implemented our "Walking Straight" application on an existing consumer device, taking advantage of the built-in sensors on smartphones. First, we investigated whether a continuous or discrete form of non-speech audio feedback was more effective in keeping participants on a straight path. The most effective form was then tested with nine blind participants. The promising results demonstrate that Walking Straight significantly reduced the participants' deviation from a straight path as compared to their usual behaviour, e.g., with a guide dog or cane, without affecting their pace.