Visible to the public GoingEasy with Crowdsourcing - Building Cyber-Physical Systems for People with Visual Impairment

Project Details
Lead PI:Baoxin LI
Co-PI(s):Huan Liu
Terri Hedgpeth
Performance Period:10/01/11 - 09/30/16
Institution(s):Arizona State University
Sponsor(s):National Science Foundation
Project URL:http://www.public.asu.edu/~bli24/GoingEasy.htm
Award Number:1135616
2612 Reads. Placed 32 out of 803 NSF CPS Projects based on total reads on all related artifacts.
Abstract: Many practical barriers continue to exist for a blind individual who strives to lead an independent and active life, despite decades of development of assistive technologies. This project addresses the following two most prominent challenges: (1) disparity in information-sharing among people with visual impairment and its limited understanding by the research community; and (2) lack of methods and tools for effectively addressing the disparity. The central idea is to engage visually-impaired people and their families and friends to directly contribute to a joint endeavor of enhancing information flow, increasing awareness, and improving efficiency of assistive practices, through employing social media and participatory Web. The research is focused on designing computational methodologies and developing tools that are necessary for building cyber-physical systems for a domain where the tight intertwining of physical and cyber systems plus active participation of the human users are the key to attaining the otherwise unlikely capabilities for improving the quality of living for people with special needs. The key approach is to develop a blind-specific cyber-physical system that supports social-media-based crowdsourcing. This enables visually-impaired people to form loosely-connected groups, actively contribute their information and knowledge, and ask/answer unique questions of special needs. Such a system has specific features required: i) blind-friendly (both the cyber components and the physical components); ii) able to provide constantly-updated information, as opposed to just static websites); iii) able to support the users? real-time query for information when mobile iv) able to provide information that is important to the users? daily living, and v) supports expandability and scalability of the CPS, e.g., being able to bridge to other existing social network sites or to expand the virtual community. Specific approaches include automatic direction inquiry, instant call-in/text-in system, community-specific data mining, information retrieval and behavior modeling, all aiming at providing the most useful information for the target user. Aiming at bridging a significant knowledge gap in addressing the challenge of disparity in information-sharing for people with special needs in the age of social media, the project contributes to the development of a deeper understanding of the principles and methodologies in building new cyber-physical systems that promote and support active participation of users of the system, which is especially important for special-need groups such as the visually impaired, the elderly, etc. The significant impact of the work on the society lies in its potential in empowering special-need groups to pursue active and independent living in the information era. The work?s immediate impact on education is two-fold: supporting the visually-impaired students in independent learning and study as well as training students to work on emerging domains of tightly-intertwined cyber and physical systems.