Project

Unfolding Space

Goal: Research in the field of Sensory Plasticity and development and design of a low-budget and Open Source Sensory Substitution Device.

The project papers are available in German only – sorry for that.

Date: 1 January 2018 - 21 July 2018

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Project log

Jakob Kilian
added a research item
This paper documents the design, implementation and evaluation of the Unfolding Space Glove – an open source sensory substitution device. It transmits the relative position and distance of nearby objects as vibratory stimuli to the back of the hand and thus enables blind people to haptically explore the depth of their surrounding space, assisting with navigation tasks such as object recognition and wayfinding. The prototype requires no external hardware, is highly portable, operates in all lighting conditions, and provides continuous and immediate feedback – all while being visually unobtrusive. Both blind (n = 8) and blindfolded sighted participants (n = 6) completed structured training and obstacle courses with both the prototype and a white long cane to allow performance comparisons to be drawn between them. The subjects quickly learned how to use the glove and successfully completed all of the trials, though still being slower with it than with the cane. Qualitative interviews revealed a high level of usability and user experience. Overall, the results indicate the general processability of spatial information through sensory substitution using haptic, vibrotactile interfaces. Further research would be required to evaluate the prototype’s capabilities after extensive training and to derive a fully functional navigation aid from its features.
Jakob Kilian
added an update
I am currently working on the evaluation and writing of my master's thesis and a potential paper. This will - just like reliable information about it - of course, take some time (there should be news sometime early next year). So here is a little insight into the data of the study:
In the 1st figure, you can see the log of the task completion time over the course of all runs. On the left with the white cane, on the right with the tested SSD. The last 7 samples (21-28) were measured after the total wearing time of approx. 1.5 hours. The learning effect of the SSD (and the cane in the sighted group) is clearly visible. The difference between the aids (with the cane being faster) in both groups ( visually impaired / blind and sighted) is also clearly visible. Of course, the question arises as to what the further course would look like with more training...
In the 2nd figure you again see the log of the task completion time (after the last training –> approx. 1.5 hours of wearing) as boxplot comparing the two conditions: visually impaired / blind and sighted. In both you can see that the runs with cane were faster even though still close.
This, of course, needs a lot more information to be interpreted correctly – I am working on this right now and I am looking forward to presenting it soon! This is just a sneak preview to keep you updated.
best, Jakob
 
Jakob Kilian
added an update
After finishing the prototypes for the study (see pictures) I was able to successfully conduct the study in August and September without any technical problems or other issues.
Right now I am doing the transcription and analysis of the data gathered. In the next few months, I will write my master's thesis and submit it at the end of January. The thesis and also blueprints and code will be uploaded as soon as I had time to put everything in order, probably in February. A paper on the study is also planned to be published. More on this as soon as there is solid news.
Thanks for the photos to Kjell Wistoff.
 
Jakob Kilian
added an update
I am very happy that now after some failed attempts at other institutes over the last year I am able to write my master thesis at the ZEISS Vision Science Lab (Ophthalmic Research Institute at the University Hospital Tübingen, Germany), from whom I also get a budget to conduct a small empirical study with 10-20 participants. Furthermore, as coincidence would have it, I was able to successfully apply for a grant to build the prototype tested in this study: The Kickstart @ TH Köln project (financed by federal funds) provides me with a budget to realize a revised version of the device. This way I can finally start to work through the list of shortcomings and get professional help for the trickier problems. A 3D rendering of the upcoming device worn on the glove itself is attached.
No worries: the project stays open!
On the other hand, this also means, that my final thesis will be in English and there will (hopefully) also be a paper published so that non-German-speaking readers can follow the progress.
I will keep you posted when there is more to report!
 
Jakob Kilian
added an update
Information, Material and Documentation is now online under: https://unfoldingspace.jakobkilian.de/en
 
Jakob Kilian
added 2 research items
This is the theoretical part of my bachelor thesis. The paper is only available in German. In this paper – so called "proposal" – the phenomenon of Sensory Plasticity is researched as a basis to develop a Sensory Substitution device in the later published final thesis.
As this is my bachelor thesis the paper is only available in German - sorry for that. This project deals with the phenomenon of sensory substitution by which the function of one missing or faulty sensory modality is replaced (substituted) by stimulating another one. During the thesis a device has been developed, which aims to enable the blind to haptically experience the surroundings and spatial depth through vibration, so that they can detect obstacles and orient themselves within space in order to better cope with their daily activities. more information (German and English) on: https://unfoldingspace.jakobkilian.de
Jakob Kilian
added a project goal
Research in the field of Sensory Plasticity and development and design of a low-budget and Open Source Sensory Substitution Device.
The project papers are available in German only – sorry for that.