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Color Targets: Fiducials to Help Visually Impaired People Find Their Way by Camera Phone

Author(s): Coughlan James | Manduchi Roberto

Journal: EURASIP Journal on Image and Video Processing
ISSN 1687-5176

Volume: 2007;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 096357;
Date: 2007;
Original page

A major challenge faced by the blind and visually impaired population is that of wayfinding—the ability of a person to find his or her way to a given destination. We propose a new wayfinding aid based on a camera cell phone, which is held by the user to find and read aloud specially designed machine-readable signs, which we call color targets, in indoor environments (labeling locations such as offices and restrooms). Our main technical innovation is that we have designed the color targets to be detected and located in fractions of a second on the cell phone CPU, even at a distance of several meters. Once the sign has been quickly detected, nearby information in the form of a barcode can be read, an operation that typically requires more computational time. An important contribution of this paper is a principled method for optimizing the design of the color targets and the color target detection algorithm based on training data, instead of relying on heuristic choices as in our previous work. We have implemented the system on Nokia 7610 cell phone, and preliminary experiments with blind subjects demonstrate the feasibility of using the system as a real-time wayfinding aid.
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