Usability and Design Guidelines of Smart Canes for Users with Visual Impairments
Sung Yeon Kim, Kwangsu Cho


A white cane is one of the most common mobility aids for the visually impaired. However, it does not help users with visual impairments find obstacles at head- or knee-level, or at distances greater than 1 m. To overcome these difficulties, smart canes with vibration alerts and an extended obstacle detection range have been introduced. However, several usability problems mean that users with visual impairments rarely adopt a smart cane. The goal of this study was to understand the potential for using a smart cane, along with the existing usability problems and then to develop design guidelines for improved smart canes. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to address these goals. A quantitative evaluation was performed of users with visual impairments using a prototype smart cane. Then, in-depth interviews of cane users were conducted. The results showed that a smart cane was more effective in avoiding obstacles than a white cane, but there were several potential usability problems. On the basis of the results, design guidelines for a smart cane prototype were devised.

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