Wizard of Oz Prototype

A6: Vision Impaired Navigation Aid

In this group assignment we got to explore user interaction using a form of behavioral prototyping. As a group we decided to explore user interactions with a vision impaired navigation aid.


Crossing the street can be an extremely dangerous task, especially when you are visually impaired. We decided to focus on this scenario for the creation of our behavioral prototype. To address the issue of crossing the street our group decided to target audio feedback for guiding the visually impaired. We chose this because hearing is one of the senses available to a person with sight problems. We tested out the prototype with a participant in a controlled environment with a cross walk.

In our behavioral prototype test we used a pair of sun glasses with a small camera attached to the frames as the device to detect obstacles for our participant. We also used text to speech software to convey information about the user’s surroundings to the user, from the wizard to our moderator’s phone.

We had our participant wear these glasses and headphones attached to our moderator’s phone, and the results can be seen in the video below.


In conducting the test it was evident where the shortcomings were in our design. It was difficult for our wizard to send out guidance in real time, which delayed our participants’ ability to respond to the situation. Finding an optimal view point of the entire scene for the wizard that also allowed for use of the text to speech software proved difficult

A piece of feedback we got during the critique was to use paces instead of direct measurement (meters) when giving instructions to users. it would be hard for anybody, let alone a visually impaired user to know how may steps 10 meters is. Having the moderator walk with the participant is something that was really helpful during the test. This made the user feel safer and helped control the test when the wizard failed to respond fast enough. Overall the Wizard of Oz prototype took a lot of teamwork, practice, and coordination to pull off successfully.

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