A Comparative Study in Real-time Scene Sonification for Visually Impaired People

Weijian Hu, Kaiwei Wang, Kailun Yang, Ruiqi Cheng, Yaozu Ye, Lei Sun, Zhijie Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, with the development of depth cameras and scene detection algorithms, a wide variety of electronic travel aids for visually impaired people have been proposed. However, it is still challenging to convey scene information to visually impaired people efficiently. In this paper, we propose three different auditory-based interaction methods, i.e., depth image sonification, obstacle sonification as well as path sonification, which convey raw depth images, obstacle information and path information respectively to visually impaired people. Three sonification methods are compared comprehensively through a field experiment attended by twelve visually impaired participants. The results show that the sonification of high-level scene information, such as the direction of pathway, is easier to learn and adapt, and is more suitable for point-to-point navigation. In contrast, through the sonification of low-level scene information, such as raw depth images, visually impaired people can understand the surrounding environment more comprehensively. Furthermore, there is no interaction method that is best suited for all participants in the experiment, and visually impaired individuals need a period of time to find the most suitable interaction method. Our findings highlight the features and the differences of three scene detection algorithms and the corresponding sonification methods. The results provide insights into the design of electronic travel aids, and the conclusions can also be applied in other fields, such as the sound feedback of virtual reality applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3222
Number of pages17
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2020


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