L to R: Huiying Shen, Ali Cheraghi, Brandon Biggs, James Coughlan, Charity Pitcher-Cooper, Giovanni Fusco

Coughlan Lab

The goal of our laboratory is to develop and test assistive technology for blind and visually impaired persons that is enabled by computer vision and other sensor technologies.


Journal Articles
Conference Papers
Non-Visual Access to an Interactive 3D Map. (2022). Non-Visual Access to an Interactive 3D Map. In Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE '22).
Design and Evaluation of an Audio Game-Inspired Auditory Map Interface. (2019). Design and Evaluation of an Audio Game-Inspired Auditory Map Interface. In The 25th International Conference on Auditory Display (ICAD 2019). Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
Indoor Localization using Computer Vision and Visual-Inertial Odometry. (2018). Indoor Localization using Computer Vision and Visual-Inertial Odometry. In International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ICCHP '18). Linz, Austria: Linz, Austria.
  • Collage of RERC staff mebers and RERC projects

    Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center

    The Center's research goal is to develop and apply new scientific knowledge and practical, cost-effective devices to better understand and address the real-world problems of blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind consumers

    View Center
  • photo of a bridge with text: "be descriptive be brief be part of the solution"

    Video Description Research and Development Center

    The Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC) investigates innovative technologies and techniques for making online video more accessible to blind and visually-impaired students and consumers. Through collaboration with a broad array of partners and stakeholders in the Description Leadership Network, we are developing advanced video annotation methods for use in a wide variety of educational settings, as well as helping educators and other description providers make better use of the tools already available.

    View Center
  • map pose and exit detection image

    A Computer Vision-Based Indoor Wayfinding Tool

    The ability to navigate safely and confidently is a fundamental requirement for independent travel and access to many settings such as work, school, shopping, transit and healthcare. Navigation is particularly challenging for people with visual impairments, who have limited ability to see signs, landmarks or maps posted in the environment.

    Read More
  • Image of an audio map


    Audiom: audiom.net

    Read More
  • Picture shows person pointing stylus to plastic model of a biological cell; webcam (not pictured) views model and stylus; computer, connected to webcam, announces "Nucleolus"


    CamIO (short for “Camera Input-Output”) is a system to make physical objects (such as documents, maps, devices and 3D models) accessible to blind and visually impaired persons, by providing real-ti

    Read More
  • Active

    Computer Vision Journal Club

    The Computer Vision Journal Club meets periodically to discuss papers on topics in computer vision, machine learning and other topics of interest such as assistive technologies for persons who are

    Read More
  • Photo of Magic Map, a bronze scale map of the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto. The bronze map is bordered by panels on both sides with descriptions of the map.

    Magic Map

    The Magic Map is an interactive 3D map installed at the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, California. It consists of a 1/100 scale 3D bronze representation of the playground, which includes over seventy play structures organized into multiple play zones and paths. When the tip of the "Magic Wand" tethered to the map is pointed to a specific feature on the map, the name and description of the feature are read aloud in audio. This interactivity makes the map accessible to visitors with visual impairments, and without requiring them to read braille.

    Read More
  • Sample indoor sign showing automatic detection in yellow

    Sign Finder

    This project seeks to develop a computer vision-based system that allows a visually impaired traveler to find and read informational signs, such as signs labeling office doors, streets, restrooms a

    Read More
  • Active

    Tactile Graphics Helper (TGH)

    Tactile graphics use raised lines, textures, and elevations to provide individuals with visual impairments access to graphical materials through touch.

    Read More
  • ZoomBoard overview
  • SKERI RERC logo

    SKERI Receives Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) grant on...

    Smith-Kettlewell is proud to announce the newly awarded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) grant on Blindness and Low Vision. This is a five-year grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, establishing Smith-Kettlewell as a center promoting the independence and well-being of people with visual impairments through research and development to improve the understanding of, and provide solutions for, challenges facing the blind and low-vision community.
  • portrait of Brandon Biggs

    SKERI Engineer Featured on the Blind Abilities Podcast

    SKERI engineer, Brandon Biggs, was featured on the Blind Abilities podcast to discuss Audiom - a SKERI Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
  • Top down view of a physical model of the Magical Bridge playground layout

    Audiom allows for accessible, virtual visits to the Magical Bridge...

    The Magical Bridge Foundation mission is to bring inclusive, accessive playgrounds that can be enjoyed by all children. For the first time, it is now possible for blind and visually impaired visitors to view a nonvisual map of the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, at home, directly from their web browser using Audiom . Audiom was developed by Smith-Kettlewell researcher, Brandon Biggs , is...
  • picture of Dr. Coughlan and Mr. Biggs

    SKERI Researcher talks Indoor Navigation & Mapping on Blind Bargains

    The work of Dr. James Coughlan and Brandon Biggs was again recognized at the annual CSUN conference, where Brandon was interviewed for a podcast on Blind Bargains, a source for news and resources for the blind community.
  • smartphone camera aimed at a model of a biological cell with two styluses nearby

    SKERI Research Recognized with the Dr. Arthur I. Karshmer Award for...

    We congratulate Dr. James Coughlan , Dr. Huiying Shen and Brandon Biggs, MDes on winning the Dr. Arthur I. Karshmer Award for Assistive Technology Research with their publication Towards Accessible Audio Labeling of 3D Objects that aims to harness smart phone-based technology to query information about a multitude of objects in users' daily lives. The award is given out annually to the top...
  • photo portrait of Brandon Biggs

    Brandon Biggs brings his ideas for accessibility to SKERI

    We’re excited to welcome Brandon Biggs to the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. Brandon arrived in August to collaborate with Dr. Coughlan, Dr. Shen and Dr. Fusco to work on accessibility research and development. This collaboration started last year, when Brandon met Dr. Coughlan at the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) International Conference in Reno, Nevada. Brandon was then enrolled in a Master’s program in Inclusive Design at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada, which he completed in June.
  • Photo of CamIO ("Camera Input-Output") system

    Scientists Receive NEI Grant Aiding Blind Interaction with Physical Objects

    James Coughlan, PhD, Senior Scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, California, was recently awarded a four-year grant from NIH-NEI (R01EY025332) entitled, “Enabling Audio-Haptic Interaction with Physical Objects for the Visually Impaired Summary".
  • Smartphone app, BLaDE, detecting a bar code

    Dr. Coughlan's Bar Code Reader, BLaDE, Featured in Scientific American

    Work by Drs. James Coughlan and Ender Tekin on bar code readers as an accessibility tool is discussed in Scientific American. The work with using these tools is specifically focused for people who are blind or who have visual impairments.