Remote sighted assistants for indoor location sensing of visually impaired pedestrians

Paymon Rafian, Gordon E. Legge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Because indoor navigation is difficult for people with visual impairment, there is a need for the development of assistive technology. Indoor location sensing, the ability to identify a pedestrian’s location and orientation, is a key component of such technology. We tested the accuracy of a potential crowdsourcing-based indoor location sensing method. Normally sighted subjects were asked to identify the location and facing direction of photos taken by a pedestrian in a building. The subjects had available a floor plan and a small number of representative photos from key locations within the floor plan. Subjects were able to provide accurate location estimates (median location accuracy 3.87ft). This finding indicates that normally sighted subjects, with minimal training, using a simple graphical representation of a floor plan, can provide accurate location estimates based on a single, suitable photo taken by a pedestrian. We conclude that indoor localization is possible using remote, crowdsourced, human assistance. This method has the potential to be used for the location-sensing component of an indoor navigation aid for people with visual impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalACM Transactions on Applied Perception
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by research funds from the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota. We thank Rachel Gage for recruiting subjects and experiment set-up, Yingchen He for help with data organization and suggestions on experiment protocol, and Bosco Tjan PhD for showing us how PowerPoint could be used to register accurate location sensing responses of subjects.


  • Blind
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Indoor navigation
  • Location sensing
  • Low vision
  • Visual impairment
  • Wayfinding

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