Model-Based Obstacle Sonification for the Navigation of Visually Impaired Persons

Simone Spagnol; Omar I. Johannesson; Arni Kristjansson; Runar Unnthorsson; Charalampos Saitis; Kyriaki Kalimeri; Michal Bujacz; Alin Moldoveanu
DAFx-2016 - Brno
This paper proposes a sonification model for encoding visual 3D information into sounds, inspired by the impact properties of the objects encountered during blind navigation. The proposed model is compared against two sonification models developed for orientation and mobility, chosen based on their common technical requirements. An extensive validation of the proposed model is reported; five legally blind and five normally sighted participants evaluated the proposed model as compared to the two competitive models on a simplified experimental navigation scenario. The evaluation addressed not only the accuracy of the responses in terms of psychophysical measurements but also the cognitive load and emotional stress of the participants by means of biophysiological signals and evaluation questionnaires. Results show that the proposed impact sound model adequately conveys the relevant information to the participants with low cognitive load, following a short training session.