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Open Access Research Article

Color Targets: Fiducials to Help Visually Impaired People Find Their Way by Camera Phone

James Coughlan1* and Roberto Manduchi2

Author Affiliations

1 Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA

2 University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA

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EURASIP Journal on Image and Video Processing 2007, 2007:096357  doi:10.1155/2007/96357

Published: 28 August 2007


A major challenge faced by the blind and visually impaired population is that of wayfinding—the ability of a person to find his or her way to a given destination. We propose a new wayfinding aid based on a camera cell phone, which is held by the user to find and read aloud specially designed machine-readable signs, which we call color targets, in indoor environments (labeling locations such as offices and restrooms). Our main technical innovation is that we have designed the color targets to be detected and located in fractions of a second on the cell phone CPU, even at a distance of several meters. Once the sign has been quickly detected, nearby information in the form of a barcode can be read, an operation that typically requires more computational time. An important contribution of this paper is a principled method for optimizing the design of the color targets and the color target detection algorithm based on training data, instead of relying on heuristic choices as in our previous work. We have implemented the system on Nokia 7610 cell phone, and preliminary experiments with blind subjects demonstrate the feasibility of using the system as a real-time wayfinding aid.