Audio aid – Binaural navigation for people with visual impairment (NUSHS student project)

This project is launched by NUS High School (NUSHS) students: Lee Tae Hoon, Manish Reddy Vuyyuru and T Ananda Kumar, with their supervisors Dr Chiam Sher Yi and Ms Yenny Wijaya. I am the SUTD Supervisor. We won the Silver Award in Singapore Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF 2014).

We just published this work to top conference in audio research. More detail will be provided after the conference review process.

In brief, this work use a stereo sound to guide a user to walk to  a certain destination.


The team aimed to precisely navigate a subject through a route only with the use of 3d-sound (binaural sound). Firstly, a subject’s capability of absolute localization of real sound sources was tested, along with the subject’s ability of absolute localization of virtual sound sources. Data from this experiment suggested that localization of virtual sound was as good as the localization of real sound. It also suggested that localization of sound was more precise near the nasal axis, as compared to other regions in the frontal azimuth. The second experiment conducted using a Relative Localization paradigm agreed with the results from the first experiment and found the subject to be sensitive to angular sound source deviations up to 1° from the nasal axis. All results and findings of experiments suggested the feasibility of binaural navigation of the visually impaired. A prototype android application utilizing a self-constructed Spatial Audio Database was developed and put to the test. The subject deviated minimally from the route he was supposed to follow with an impressive RMSE value of 366 mm. The application managed to successfully navigate the subject along the route paving the way for more sophisticated devices that utilize binaural navigation in the future.

aural navigation