Seita Kayukawa, Keita Higuchi, João Guerreiro, Shigeo Morishima, Yoichi Sato, Kris Kitani, and Chieko Asakawa.

BBeep: A Sonic Collision Avoidance System for Blind Travellers and Nearby Pedestrians

DOI: 10.1145/3290605.3300282

ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'19)

We present an assistive suitcase system, BBeep, for supporting blind people when walking through crowded environments. BBeep uses pre-emptive sound notifications to help clear a path by alerting both the user and nearby pedestrians about the potential risk of collision. BBeep triggers notifications by tracking pedestrians, predicting their future position in real-time, and provides sound notifications only when it anticipates a future collision. We investigate how different types and timings of sound affect nearby pedestrian behavior. In our experiments, we found that sound emission timing has a significant impact on nearby pedestrian trajectories when compared to different sound types. Based on these findings, we performed a real-world user study at an international airport, where blind participants navigated with the suitcase in crowded areas. We observed that the proposed system significantly reduces the number of imminent collisions.