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Helping the Blind to Get through COVID-19: Social Distancing Assistant Using Real-Time Semantic Segmentation on RGB-D Video

1
Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
2
Study Centre for the Visually Impaired, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2020, 20(18), 5202; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20185202
Received: 19 August 2020 / Revised: 9 September 2020 / Accepted: 10 September 2020 / Published: 12 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Sensing and Imaging)
The current COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on our daily lives. Social distancing is one of the measures that has been implemented with the aim of slowing the spread of the disease, but it is difficult for blind people to comply with this. In this paper, we present a system that helps blind people to maintain physical distance to other persons using a combination of RGB and depth cameras. We use a real-time semantic segmentation algorithm on the RGB camera to detect where persons are and use the depth camera to assess the distance to them; then, we provide audio feedback through bone-conducting headphones if a person is closer than 1.5 m. Our system warns the user only if persons are nearby but does not react to non-person objects such as walls, trees or doors; thus, it is not intrusive, and it is possible to use it in combination with other assistive devices. We have tested our prototype system on one blind and four blindfolded persons, and found that the system is precise, easy to use, and amounts to low cognitive load. View Full-Text
Keywords: computer vision for the visually impaired; social distancing; semantic segmentation computer vision for the visually impaired; social distancing; semantic segmentation
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Martinez, M.; Yang, K.; Constantinescu, A.; Stiefelhagen, R. Helping the Blind to Get through COVID-19: Social Distancing Assistant Using Real-Time Semantic Segmentation on RGB-D Video. Sensors 2020, 20, 5202.

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