Open Access Research Article

Transforming 3D Coloured Pixels into Musical Instrument Notes for Vision Substitution Applications

Guido Bologna1*, Benoît Deville2, Thierry Pun2 and Michel Vinckenbosch1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Applied Science, Rue de la prairie 4, Geneva 1202, Switzerland

2 Computer Science Center, University of Geneva, Rue Général Dufour 24, Geneva 1211, Switzerland

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EURASIP Journal on Image and Video Processing 2007, 2007:076204  doi:10.1155/2007/76204

Published: 22 August 2007

Abstract

The goal of the See ColOr project is to achieve a noninvasive mobility aid for blind users that will use the auditory pathway to represent in real-time frontal image scenes. We present and discuss here two image processing methods that were experimented in this work: image simplification by means of segmentation, and guiding the focus of attention through the computation of visual saliency. A mean shift segmentation technique gave the best results, but for real-time constraints we simply implemented an image quantification method based on the HSL colour system. More particularly, we have developed two prototypes which transform HSL coloured pixels into spatialised classical instrument sounds lasting for 300 ms. Hue is sonified by the timbre of a musical instrument, saturation is one of four possible notes, and luminosity is represented by bass when luminosity is rather dark and singing voice when it is relatively bright. The first prototype is devoted to static images on the computer screen, while the second has been built up on a stereoscopic camera which estimates depth by triangulation. In the audio encoding, distance to objects was quantified into four duration levels. Six participants with their eyes covered by a dark tissue were trained to associate colours with musical instruments and then asked to determine on several pictures, objects with specific shapes and colours. In order to simplify the protocol of experiments, we used a tactile tablet, which took the place of the camera. Overall, colour was helpful for the interpretation of image scenes. Moreover, preliminary results with the second prototype consisting in the recognition of coloured balloons were very encouraging. Image processing techniques such as saliency could accelerate in the future the interpretation of sonified image scenes.