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Plenary Lecture

Assisted Movement of Visually Impaired in Outdoor Environments – Work Directions and New Results

Professor Virgil Tiponut
Applied Electronic Department,
Electronic and Telecommunications Faculty,
“Politehnica” University of Timisoara,
B-dul Vasile PÔrvan 2, 300223 Timişoara,
ROMANIA

Email: virgil.tiponut@etc.upt.ro
 

Abstract: There are approximately 45 million blind individuals world-wide according to the World Health Report. Vision loss limits their access to the educational opportunities, social events, public transportation and leads to a higher rate of unemployment than that of individuals with no functional limitations (58% and 18% respectively, according to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)). Many efforts have been invested in the last years, based on ingenious devices and information technology, to help people to overcome these barriers and to integrate them in the social and productive life.
In this talk, research efforts are presented to develop electronic travel aids (ETA) that increase the visual impaired people’s independence in their working and living environment. These devices, based on sensor technology and signal processing, are capable to improve the mobility of blind users (in terms of safety and speed), in unknown or dynamically changing environment. In particular, an integrated environment that improves the mobility of blind persons in to a limited area is presented. The proposed solution includes wearable equipment, placed on the subject, who guides the blind user to navigate autonomous with obstacles avoidance and stationary, monitoring equipment, which supervises the motion in order to avoid some unexpected events. The 3D obstacles detection system, included in the wearable equipment is bio-inspired, i.e. the system detects obstacles in a similar way as a subject with normal sight is looking for obstacles in front of him. The monitoring equipment, based on a GPS and a GSM/GPRS communication system, is capable to track the movement of a group of visually impaired, each of them moving on a specified pathway, in order to reach the desired target. The man-machine interface exploits the remarkable abilities of the human hearing system in identifying sound source positions in 3D space. The proposed solution relies on the Acoustic Virtual Reality (AVR) concept, which can be considered as a substitute for the lost sight of blind and visually impaired individuals. According to the AVR concept, the presence of obstacles in the surrounding environment and the path to the target will be signalized to the subject by burst of sounds, whose virtual source position suggests the position of the real obstacles and the direction of movement, respectively.




Brief Biography of the Speaker:
Prof. Virgil TIPONUT received the M.Sc. in 1968, in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science, and the Ph.D. degree in Electronic Engineering and Telecommunications, in 1981, both at the POLITEHNICA University of Timisoara, Romania. Since graduation he is with POLITEHNICA University of Timisoara and curently he is a professor at Electronic and Telecommunication Faculty, responsable for teaching in embedded systems, smart transducers and neural networks.
His research interests include bioinspired systems, with application in mobile and rehabilitation robotics and some closed related areas: smart transducers, neural networks and fuzzy logic, biomedical engineering, embedded systems. He has published more than 100 papers in national and international Journals and Conference Proceedings, authored 10 books and 10 text books, and holds 21 patents. He conducted more than 25 research and development projects, grants and contracts in the field of embedded systems, robotics and smart transducers.
Prof. Tiponut has been involved in setting up national and international conferences as a reviewer and/or member of organizing committee or board of sections. He was a visiting professor at universities from USA, Germany, Ireland and Schotland.
He is a member of the IEEE Society (CAS, EMB, RA), WSEAS Society, member of the Society of Electronic Engineers from Romania and corresponding member of the Academy of Technical Science from Romania.
 

 


 

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