Variability in Reactions to Instructional Guidance during Smartphone-Based Assisted Navigation of Blind Users

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'Turn slightly to the left' the navigational system announces, with the aim of directing a blind user to merge into a corridor. Yet, due to long reaction time, the user turns too late and proceeds into the wrong hallway. Observations of such user behavior in real-world navigation settings motivate us to study the manner in which blind users react to the instructional feedback of a turn-by-turn guidance system. We found little previous work analyzing the extent of the variability among blind users in reaction to different instructional guidance during assisted navigation. To gain insight into how navigational interfaces can be better designed to accommodate the information needs of different users, we conduct a data-driven analysis of reaction variability as defined by motion and timing measures. Based on continuously tracked user motion during real-world navigation with a deployed system, we find significant variability between users in their reaction characteristics. Specifically, the statistical analysis reveals significant variability during the crucial elements of the navigation (e.g., turning and encountering obstacles). With the end-user experience in mind, we identify the need to not only adjust interface timing and content to each user's personal walking pace, but also their individual navigation skill and style. The design implications of our study inform the development of assistive systems which consider such user-specific behavior to ensure successful navigation.


18 Sep 2018