Year

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Computer Science and Software Engineering

Abstract

This thesis explores the use of head-mounted sensors combined with haptic feedback for providing e ective and intuitive perception of the surrounding environment for the visually impaired. Additionally, this interaction paradigm is extended to providing haptic perception of graphical computer interfaces. To achieve this, accurate sensing of the head itself is required for tracking the user's "gaze" position instead of sensing the environment. Transcutaneous electro-neural feedback is utilised as a substitute for the retina's neural input, and is shown to provide a rich and versatile communication interface without encumbering the user's auditory perception.

Systems are presented for:

facilitating obstacle avoidance and localisation via electro-neural stimulation of intensity proportional to distance (obtained via head-mounted stereo cameras or infrared range sensors);

encoding of colour information (obtained via a head-mounted video camera or dedicated colour sensor) for landmark identification using electro-neural frequency;

navigation using GPS data by encoding landmark identifiers into short pulse patterns and mapping fingers/sensors to bearing regions (aided by a head-mounted digital compass);

tracking human head-pose using a single video camera with accuracy within 0.5degrees;

utilising time-of-flight sensing technology for head-pose tracking and facial recognition;

non-visual manipulation of a typical software "desktop" graphical user interface using point-and-click and drag-and-drop interactions;

and haptic perception of the spatial layout of pages on the World Wide Web, contrasting output via electro-neural stimulation and Braille displays.

Preliminary experimental results are presented for each system. References to many new research endeavours building upon the concepts pioneered in this project are also provided.

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