SpaceSense: Representing Geographical Information to Visually Impaired People Using Spatial Tactile Feedback

Koji Yatani, Nikola Banovic, and Khai Truong

Abstract

Learning an environment can be challenging for people with

visual impairments. Braille maps allow their users to

understand the spatial relationship between a set of places.

However, physical Braille maps are often costly, may not

always cover an area of interest with sufficient detail, and

might not present up-to-date information. We built a

handheld system for representing geographical information

called SpaceSense, which includes custom spatial tactile

feedback hardware—multiple vibration motors attached to

different locations on a mobile touch-screen device. It offers

high-level information about the distance and direction

towards a destination and bookmarked places through

vibrotactile feedback to help the user maintain the spatial

relationships between these points. SpaceSense also adapts a

summarization technique for online user reviews of public

and commercial venues. Our user study shows that

participants could build and maintain the spatial relationships

between places on a map more accurately with SpaceSense

compared to a system without spatial tactile feedback. They

pointed specifically to having spatial tactile feedback as the

contributing factor in successfully building and maintaining

their mental map.

Details

Publication typeInproceedings
Published inCHI 2012 Conference on Human Factors in Information Systems
PublisherACM
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