Mobility enhancement using simulated artificial human vision

Dowling, Jason Anthony (2007) Mobility enhancement using simulated artificial human vision. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The electrical stimulation of appropriate components of the human visual system can result in the perception of blobs of light (or phosphenes) in totally blind patients. By stimulating an array of closely aligned electrodes it is possible for a patient to perceive very low-resolution images from spatially aligned phosphenes. Using this approach, a number of international research groups are working toward developing multiple electrode systems (called Artificial Human Vision (AHV) systems or visual prostheses) to provide a phosphene-based substitute for normal human vision. Despite the great promise, there are currently a number of constraints with current AHV systems. These include limitations in the number of electrodes which can be implanted and the perceived spatial layout and display frequency of phosphenes. Therefore the development of computer vision techniques that can maximise the visualisation value of the limited number of phosphenes would be useful in compensating for these constraints. The lack of an objective method for comparing different AHV system displays, in addition to comparing AHV systems and other blind mobility aids (such as the long cane), has been a significant problem for AHV researchers. Finally, AHV research in Australia and many other countries relies strongly on theoretical models and animal experimentation due to the difficult of prototype human trials. Because of this constraint the experiments conducted in this thesis were limited to simulated AHV devices with normally sighted research participants and the true impact on blind people can only be regarded as approximated. In light of these constraints, this thesis has two general aims. The first aim is to investigate, evaluate and develop effective techniques for mobility assessment which will allow the objective comparison of different AHV system phosphene presentation methods. The second aim is to develop a useful display framework to guide the development of AHV information presentation, and use this framework to guide the development of an AHV simulation device. The first research contribution resulting from this work is a conceptual framework based on literature reviews of blind and low vision mobility, AHV technology, and computer vision. This framework incorporates a comprehensive number of factors which affect the effectiveness of information presentation in an AHV system. Experiments reported in this thesis have investigated a number of these factors using simulated AHV with human participants. It has been found that higher spatial resolution is associated with accurate walking (reduced veering), whereas higher display rate is associated with faster walking speeds. In this way it has been demonstrated that the conceptual framework supports and guides the development of an adaptive AHV system, with the dynamic adjustment of display properties in real-time. The second research contribution addresses mobility assessment which has been identified as an important issue in the AHV literature. This thesis presents the adaptation of a mobility assessment method from the blind and low vision literature to measure simulated AHV mobility performance using real-time computer based analysis. This method of mobility assessment (based on parameters for walking speed, obstacle contacts and veering) is demonstrated experimentally in two different indoor mobility courses. These experiments involved sixty-five participants wearing a head-mounted simulation device. The final research contribution in this thesis is the development and evaluation of an original real-time looming obstacle detector, based on coarse optical flow, and implemented on a Windows PocketPC based Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) using a CF card camera. PDA based processors are a preferred main processing platform for AHV systems due to their small size, light weight and ease of software development. However, PDA devices are currently constrained by restricted random access memory, lack of a floating point unit and slow internal bus speeds. Therefore any real-time software needs to maximise the use of integer calculations and minimise memory usage. This contribution was significant as the resulting device provided a selection of experimental results and subjective opinions.

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ID Code: 16380
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Boles, Wageeh & Patrick, Jim
Keywords: artificial human vision, visual prosthesis, blind mobility, image processing, computer vision, mobility assessment, visual simulation, human computer interface
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Jason Anthony Dowling
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:02
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2017 14:39

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