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Article

The Unfolding Space Glove: A Wearable Spatio-Visual to Haptic Sensory Substitution Device for Blind People

1
Köln International School of Design, TH Köln, 50678 Köln, Germany
2
ZEISS Vision Science Laboratory, Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
3
Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH, 73430 Aalen, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andrea Cataldo
Sensors 2022, 22(5), 1859; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22051859
Received: 27 January 2022 / Revised: 18 February 2022 / Accepted: 22 February 2022 / Published: 26 February 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatial Perception and Navigation in the Absence of Vision)
This paper documents the design, implementation and evaluation of the Unfolding Space Glove—an open source sensory substitution device. It transmits the relative position and distance of nearby objects as vibratory stimuli to the back of the hand and thus enables blind people to haptically explore the depth of their surrounding space, assisting with navigation tasks such as object recognition and wayfinding. The prototype requires no external hardware, is highly portable, operates in all lighting conditions, and provides continuous and immediate feedback—all while being visually unobtrusive. Both blind (n = 8) and blindfolded sighted participants (n = 6) completed structured training and obstacle courses with both the prototype and a white long cane to allow performance comparisons to be drawn between them. The subjects quickly learned how to use the glove and successfully completed all of the trials, though still being slower with it than with the cane. Qualitative interviews revealed a high level of usability and user experience. Overall, the results indicate the general processability of spatial information through sensory substitution using haptic, vibrotactile interfaces. Further research would be required to evaluate the prototype’s capabilities after extensive training and to derive a fully functional navigation aid from its features. View Full-Text
Keywords: tactile vision sensory substitution; blind; visually impaired; mobility; navigation; orientation; locomotion; open source; haptic; wearable tactile vision sensory substitution; blind; visually impaired; mobility; navigation; orientation; locomotion; open source; haptic; wearable
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  • Supplementary File 1:

    ZIP-Document (ZIP, 153816 KiB)

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Link: https://github.com/jakobkilian/unfolding-space
    Description: Code, hardware, documentation and building instructions are available in public GitHub repositories. This is the main repository containing the source code and links to corresponding repositories for hardware and the monitoring app.
  • Externally hosted supplementary file 2
    Link: https://vimeo.com/channels/unfoldingspace
    Description: High resolution video clips of subjects completing trials and trainings can also be found at vimeo.com. A lower resolution copy is attached to the main supplementary files.
MDPI and ACS Style

Kilian, J.; Neugebauer, A.; Scherffig, L.; Wahl, S. The Unfolding Space Glove: A Wearable Spatio-Visual to Haptic Sensory Substitution Device for Blind People. Sensors 2022, 22, 1859. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22051859

AMA Style

Kilian J, Neugebauer A, Scherffig L, Wahl S. The Unfolding Space Glove: A Wearable Spatio-Visual to Haptic Sensory Substitution Device for Blind People. Sensors. 2022; 22(5):1859. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22051859

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kilian, Jakob, Alexander Neugebauer, Lasse Scherffig, and Siegfried Wahl. 2022. "The Unfolding Space Glove: A Wearable Spatio-Visual to Haptic Sensory Substitution Device for Blind People" Sensors 22, no. 5: 1859. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22051859

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