Interaction Design for Blind People

Name: Shi Qiu 
Advisors: Prof. Dr. Matthias Rauterberg, Dr. Jun Hu
Funding: China Scholarship Council  

Duration: February 2014 – February 2018

Nonverbal communication (NC) plays an important role in non-blind people’s daily social interactions. It includes for example hand gestures, body languages, facial orientations and expressions, and eye contacts. However, most of the NC (such as eye contact and facial expression) are visual cues, blind people are not able to sense them. In the user interviews of 20 blind and severe visually impaired people from mainland China and Hong Kong, it indicates that despite blind people can communicate with non-blind people through the verbal channel, the lack of NC, especially eye contacts, influences the conversation qualities such as engagement and emotional expressions.  

In our project, we focus on how to enable blind people to be more engaged and to enjoy the conversation with non-blind people. The preliminary hypothesis is: perceiving the NC will enhance the engagement and social interaction in the conversations between blind and non-blind people. Based on this hypothesis, a wearable device “e-Sense” (Figure 1) is proposed to help blind people to “feel” nonverbal signals from their conversation partners: it can detect the eye gazes of the non-blind partner. Eye gaze signals then trigger slight vibration signals to let the blind “feel” being looked at.

Collaboration

Faculty of Engineering, Information and Systems, University of Tsukuba

China Scholarship Council

Hong Kong Blind Union

Yang Zhou Special Education School (Mainland China)