EchoExplorer: A Game App for Understanding Echolocation and Learning to Navigate Using Echo Cues
Heller, Laurie M.
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Echolocation -- the ability to detect objects in space through the perception of echoes from these objects -- has been identified as a promising venue to help visually impaired individuals navigate within their environments. The interest is in part because a proof-of-concept exists: certain visually impaired individuals are able to navigate using active echolocation. Why, then is echolocation is not in more widespread use among visually impaired individuals? It is possible that a lack of systematic echolocation training platforms has impeded individuals in picking up this skill. We designed a game-application that serves as a training platform for individuals, sighted or not, to train themselves to echolocate. Preliminary testing from both sighted and visually impaired individuals showed that users uniformly understood the game, although their enjoyment of the game was mixed. Although a number of game features could be improved, it is a promising training tool prototype for individuals learning to use echo cues for navigational purposes.