This PFI: AIR Technology Translation project focuses on translating the research advances in computer vision technologies to fill the gap between research and the real needs in assistive technology for blind people. The goal of this project is to explore solutions for the challenges of designing wearable camera-based wayfinding assistants for blind persons from fundamental research to produce a portable proof-of-concept prototype to help blind users recognize targeted destinations from complex environments. The project accomplishes this goal by 1) developing robust motion deblurring methods to handle the irregular motions of blind users who are wearing the camera and 2) recognizing targeted destinations based on the requests of blind users for wayfinding and navigation. The proof-of-concept prototype system will be developed with visual information captured via a wearable camera on sunglasses/hat and a portable computer (mini laptop or cell phone) for data analysis, while the speech/sound outputs will be provided to a blind user via a Bluetooth earpiece. The performance of the newly developed algorithms and the proof-of-concept prototype will be evaluated by blind subjects. The partnership engages different areas of expertise including university research, industry real system design and development, and blind user study from organizations for the blind and visually handicapped to provide solutions for the most challenging problems (motion blur and query-based targeted destination recognition) in the design of wearable camera-based wayfinding and navigation aids for blind users. The interdisciplinary areas of expertise pertain to the potential to translate the computer vision based assistive technology along a path that may result in a competitive commercial reality. This will lead to new revolutionary design concepts of cost-effective and portable camera-based assistive devices to help visually impaired people in achieving functional mobility comparable to people with normal vision. The potential economic impact is expected to be $120 million in the next 10 years, which will contribute to the U.S. competitiveness in developing technology for blind wayfinding and navigation. This research has a direct impact to benefit the visually impaired, improve their inclusion and integration into society, and enhance their future employment opportunities, success in the workplace, independent living, and economic and social self-sufficiency.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Barbara H. Kenny
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CUNY City College
New York
United States
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