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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (M.S.E.C.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Public transportation provides people with access to education, employment, health and community activities. However, navigating inside public hubs for people with disabilities such as cognitive or mobility impairments can be very challenging and dangerous. With the rapid development of digital technology such as Smartphones and sensors, there are unprecedented opportunities to assist people with disabilities to conquer these challenges.

In this research, we aim to create a two-step indoor navigation solution for users with different mobility and orientation abilities. In the first step, we developed a virtual reality-based pre-travel training module that enables users to familiarize themselves with the virtual environment which represents the physical environment. After users feel confident and familiar enough with the environment, they proceed to the second step in which they visit the physical environment and use our real-time navigation assistance module.

The pre-travel training module is developed using a Unity-based 3D game and includes a virtual indoor environment that represents the physical environment. The game provides a navigation function that highlights the path between the user location and the chosen destination. Considering the unique needs of cognitive impaired users, we designed action training modules in the game environment which train the user to use the ticket machine, fare gate and call boxes. Such training modules help cognitive impaired users familiarize themselves with the environment as well as gain confidence to experience the physical environment.

When the users are ready to visit the physical environment, they use our real-time navigation assistance module which includes the same 3D virtual environment developed for the pre-travel training module. This approach is particularly important for people with cognitive impairment since they cannot organize navigation cues effectively. Using the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) infrastructure in the environment, our localization algorithm can track the user location in real-time. Subsequently, the user’s location will be integrated into the game environment so that the navigation path between the user’s current location and the selected destination can be generated and visualized by the user on the fly.


First Advisor

Aura Ganz