CHI 2023
Conference paper

PathFinder: Designing a Map-less Navigation System for Blind People in Unfamiliar Buildings

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Indoor navigation systems with prebuilt maps have shown great potential in navigating blind people even in unfamiliar buildings. However, blind people cannot always benefit from them in every building, as prebuilt maps are expensive to build. This paper explores a map-less navigation system for blind people to reach destinations in unfamiliar buildings, which is implemented on a robot. We first conducted a participatory design with five blind people, which revealed that intersections and signs are the most relevant information in unfamiliar buildings. Then, we prototyped PathFinder, a navigation system that allows blind people to determine their way by detecting and conveying information about intersections and signs. Through a participatory study, we improved the interface of PathFinder, such as the feedback for conveying the detection results. Finally, a study with seven blind participants validated that PathFinder could assist users in navigating unfamiliar buildings with increased confidence compared to their regular aid.