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3 2 1 eyeHelp: Shopping Assistant for the Blind and Visually Impaired Sean Morrell, University of Massachusetts Amherst Prof. Aura Ganz, University of Massachusetts Amherst Carole Wilson, Western Massachusetts Commission for the Blind Motivation

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eyeHelp: Shopping Assistant for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Sean Morrell, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Prof. Aura Ganz, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Carole Wilson, Western Massachusetts Commission for the Blind

  • Motivation

  • 11 million people in the United States suffer from visual impairment

  • Visually impaired are determined to maintain their independence (e.g. shopping)

  • Currently shopping requires assistance from Customer Service

  • No solution to this specific problem is currently available

Abstract

Major obstacles are presented as the population of 11 million blind and visually impaired in the United States strives to maintain their independence. Grocery shopping is one of these obstacles and eyeHelp, a navigational shopping aid for the blind and visually impaired, is the solution. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags have become the de facto standard in inventory management in large grocery stores (e.g. Big Y). eyeHelp employs an off-the-shelf RFID enabled mobile device (e.g. PDA) which enables the user to interact with this environment and obtain an understanding of his/her surroundings. The system is able to audibly portray, via Text-to-Speech software, the user’s location, navigational instruction and product information using a database collected from Big Y in Hadley, MA. Through the use of beta testers from the blind and visually impaired community in Western Massachusetts, we have been able to prove that eyeHelp is a viable solution as a navigational aid in grocery stores.

  • Research Objectives

  • Better understand the needs of the blind and visually impaired

  • Establish RFID as a viable technology for eyeHelp

  • Develop a user friendly interface

  • Determine the bestrouting algorithm for this navigation problem

  • Develop a prototype RFID kiosk

Scenario

Development Phases & Progress

Phase 1 - Aisles and general item list (Complete Awaiting Test)

Phase 2 - Aisle resolution with simple routing (Complete Awaiting Test)

Phase 3 – Shopping list integration with enhanced routing

(In Progress)

Note: Using phased development allowed us to identify and correct errors more efficiently

  • User enters store with a list of desire items

  • Customer Service creates a digital shopping list and provides the user with the eyeHelp device

  • Scanning aisle tags:

    • User receives general aisle information (e.g. the aisle number and general contents)

    • User is guided to each item on his/her list (using a customized routing algorithm)

  • Note: Using a key pad, the user is able to add or delete items from his/her list on the fly

Client

Environment

  • Server

    • Functionality:

      • Synchronize shopping list with client device

  • Synchronize client device with store database

  • Hardware

    • General Purpose PC

  • Docking Station for the PDA

  • Software

    • Microsoft Windows XP

    • Sybase SQL Anywhere

    • Microsoft ActiveSync 4.5

  • Software Development

    • RFID Kiosks

      Placed on corner of every Aisle

      Embedded RFID Tag

      Provides a tactile object for the user

    Current Publications

    The Research efforts have resulted in the following publications:

    Conference / Journal Papers

    eyeHelp: A Navigational Shopping Assistant for the Blind Undergraduate Conference, April 27, 2007

    Publications

    Eye-Opening Technology

    UMass Magazine, Spring 2007

    By Charles Creekmore

    Current and Planned Industrial Collaboration

    We are currently working with Carole Wilson to properly evaluate our system from the user perspective

    Through the facilitation of Susan Worgaftik at UMass we are hoping to develop a partnership with the Big Y in Hadley, MA in order to obtain an adequate site for additional testing.

    • Future Work

    • Phase 1 Testing at UMass

    • Refining Phase 2 implementation based on user feedback from Phase 1

    • Development of custom routing algorithm for Phase 3

    • Testing on site (e.g. Big Y) to ensure real life proof of concept

    • Web interface to enable shopping list creation by user

    • Integrate with product based RFID

    This work is supported in part alumnus James M. Smith '67, and the Dean's Fund for Undergraduate Research in Engineering established in honor of Joseph I. and Barbara H. Goldstein.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors.

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