Smartphone Based Outdoor Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance System for the Visually Impaired

  • Qiaoyu Chen
  • Lijun WuEmail author
  • Zhicong Chen
  • Peijie Lin
  • Shuying Cheng
  • Zhenhui Wu
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11909)


Interlaced roads and unexpected obstacles restrict the blind from traveling. Existing outdoor blind auxiliary systems are bulky or costly, and some of them cannot even feedback the type or distance of obstacles. It is important for auxiliary blind systems to provide navigation, obstacle detection and ranging functions with affordable price and portable size. This paper presents an outdoor navigation system based on smartphone for the visually impaired, which can also help them avoid multi-type dangerous obstacles. Geographic information obtained from GPS receiving module is processed by professional navigation API to provide directional guidance. In order to help the visually impaired avoid obstacle, SSD-MobileNetV2 is retrained by a self-collected dataset with 4500 images, for better detecting the typical obstacles on the road, i.e. car, motorcycle, electric bicycle, bicycle, and pedestrian. Then, a light-weight monocular ranging method is employed to estimate the obstacle’s distance. Based on category and distance, the risk level of obstacle is evaluated, which is timely conveyed to the blind via different tunes. Field tests show that the retrained SSD-MobileNetV2 model can detect obstacles with considerable precision, and the vision-based ranging method can effectively estimate distance.


Blind auxiliary system Walking navigation Ranging SSD-MobileNetV2 Smartphone 



This work is financially supported in parts by the Fujian Provincial Department of Science and Technology of China (Grant No. 2019H0006 and 2018J01774), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61601127), and the Foundation of Fujian Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology of China (Grant No. 82318075).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Physics and Information EngineeringFuzhou UniversityFuzhouChina
  2. 2.State Grid Fuzhou Electric Power Supply CompanyFuzhouChina

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