The effect of extended sensory range via the EyeCane sensory substitution device on the characteristics of visionless virtual navigation.

Multisensory research

PubMedID: 25693302

Maidenbaum S, Levy-Tzedek S, Chebat DR, Namer-Furstenberg R, Amedi A. The effect of extended sensory range via the EyeCane sensory substitution device on the characteristics of visionless virtual navigation. Multisens Res. 2015;27(5-6):379-97.
Mobility training programs for helping the blind navigate through unknown places with a White-Cane significantly improve their mobility. However, what is the effect of new assistive technologies, offering more information to the blind user, on the underlying premises of these programs such as navigation patterns? We developed the virtual-EyeCane, a minimalistic sensory substitution device translating single-point-distance into auditory cues identical to the EyeCane's in the real world. We compared performance in virtual environments when using the virtual-EyeCane, a virtual-White-Cane, no device and visual navigation. We show that the characteristics of virtual-EyeCane navigation differ from navigation with a virtual-White-Cane or no device, and that virtual-EyeCane users complete more levels successfully, taking shorter paths and with less collisions than these groups, and we demonstrate the relative similarity of virtual-EyeCane and visual navigation patterns. This suggests that additional distance information indeed changes navigation patterns from virtual-White-Cane use, and brings them closer to visual navigation.