Indoor Localization for Visually Impaired Travelers Using Computer Vision on a Smartphone

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Publication: 17th International Web for All Conference: Automation for Accessibility (2020)
Abstract:

Wayfnding is a major challenge for visually impaired travelers, who generally lack access to visual cues such as landmarks and informational signs that many travelers rely on for navigation. Indoor wayfnding is particularly challenging since the most commonly used source of location information for wayfnding, GPS, is inaccurate indoors. We describe a computer vision approach to indoor localization that runs as a real-time app on a conventional smartphone, which is intended to support a full-featured wayfnding app in the future that will include turn-by-turn directions. Our approach combines computer vision, existing informational signs such as Exit signs, inertial sensors and a 2D map to estimate and track the user’s location in the environment. An important feature of our approach is that it requires no new physical infrastructure.
While our approach requires the user to either hold the smartphone or wear it (e.g., on a lanyard) with the camera facing forward while walking, it has the advantage of not forcing the user to aim the camera towards specifc signs, which would be challenging for people with low or no vision. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach with fve blind travelers navigating an indoor space, with localization accuracy of roughly 1 meter once the localization algorithm has converged.

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