An outdoor navigation system for blind pedestrians using GPS and tactile-foot feedback

Ramiro Velázquez, Edwige Pissaloux, Pedro Rodrigo, Miguel Carrasco, Nicola Ivan Giannoccaro, Aimé Lay-Ekuakille

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


This paper presents a novel, wearable navigation system for visually impaired and blind pedestrians that combines a global positioning system (GPS) for user outdoor localization and tactile-foot stimulation for information presentation. Real-time GPS data provided by a smartphone are processed by dedicated navigation software to determine the directions to a destination. Navigational directions are then encoded as vibrations and conveyed to the user via a tactile display that inserts into the shoe. The experimental results showed that users were capable of recognizing with high accuracy the tactile feedback provided to their feet. The preliminary tests conducted in outdoor locations involved two blind users who were guided along 380-420 m predetermined pathways, while sharing the space with other pedestrians and facing typical urban obstacles. The subjects successfully reached the target destinations. The results suggest that the proposed system enhances independent, safe navigation of blind pedestrians and show the potential of tactile-foot stimulation in assistive devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number578
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - 7 Apr 2018


  • Assistive technology
  • Blind pedestrian
  • GPS localization
  • Mobile computing
  • Navigational system
  • Tactile display
  • Tactile-foot stimulation
  • Wearable system


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