Traversing large open spaces is a challenging task for blind cane users, as such spaces are often devoid of tactile features that can be followed. Consequently, in such spaces cane users may veer from their intended paths. Wearable devices have great potential for assistive applications for users who are blind as they typically feature a camera and support hands and eye free interaction. We present Headlock, a navigation aid for an optical head-mounted display that helps blind users traverse large open spaces by letting them lock onto a salient landmark across the space, such as a door, and then providing audio feedback to guide the user towards the landmark. A user study with 8 blind users evaluated the usability and effectiveness of two types of audio feedback (sonification and text-to-speech) for guiding a user across an open space to a doorway. Qualitative results are reported, which may inform the design of assistive wearable technology for users who are blind.
Update: This project was presented at ASSETS 2014!