ORI ACSL

Applied Computer Simulation Labs

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Blind Net Software Guide

for Blind Net Software Version 1.6


Introduction:

Blind Net is Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training software for persons who are blind, designed to help students learn to identify, localize, and track 3-D sound sources around them. The Blind Net software automatically collects student performance data and provides skill building and 3-D listening evaluation capabilities.


If you have any questions about how to use the Blind Net software, or if you are having trouble getting the software to function, please refer to contact information below:

Email: http://simlabs.ori.org/contact_us/


The Blind Net system requirements are listed below:


Minimum System Requirements:

  • 800 MHz Pentium or compatible processor.
  • 256 MB RAM.
  • 3-D Sound Card (Creative Audigy series recommended).
  • External stereo speakers or headphones (highly recommended).
  • 3-D Graphic Accelerator Card (NVidia FX series or better recommended)
  • 20 MB of disk space are required to install the software.
  • Windows 2000, XP, or Vista.
  • DirectX 8 (or later).

Additional Recommended Hardware:
  • A Headphone distribution amplifier such as the Rolls HA43.
  • High quality headphones.
  • A NaturalPoint TrackIR, or InterSense InterTrax2 head tracker.
  • Microphone headset or web camera.
Features:
  • Designed to help persons who are blind acquire critical listening and audio discrimination skills.
  • 3-D sound environment that supports the placement of multiple sound sources in 3-D space.
  • Sizable library of sounds and representative icons to assist with O&M training.
  • Internet connectivity that allows the teacher to observe or coach a student in sound localization and wayfinding activiites.
  • VoIP 2-way voice conversations between a teacher and student. (Requires access to the ORI "Master" server).
  • Support for keyboard, joystick, and 3-D head trackers from NaturalPoijnt and Intersense.
  • Animation paths tha allow multiple sound sources to move along a user-defined linear path.



Installing the Blind Net Software:

The Blind Net software can be installed by downloading it directly from our web site.

To install Blind Net do the following:


1) Locate the installer application for Blind Net and double-click it.

Blind Net Installer Icon


2) Click "Next" to install the latest version of the Blind Net software.


Blind Net Setup Screen


3) The installer will show you a software agreement. To install the Blind Net software click the "I Agree" button.

Blind Net Software Agreement Screen


4) The installer will show you a default installation path. Click the "Next" button, if the recommended path is okay.

Blind Net Software Install Location Screen


5) You may choose to install "Start" menu shortcuts and "Desktop" shortcuts. Click the "Install" button to install these options. Uncheck any options you do not wish to install.

Blind Net Components Screen


6) You will see this screen when the installation process is complete. Click the "Finish" button.
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Blind Net Setup Complete Screen



Updating the Blind Net Software:

If an earlier version of Blind Net is already installed on your machine you will see the dialog window below. Click the "Yes" button.

Uninstall Blind Net Setup Screen



1) Click the "Uninstall" button to uninstall the older version of the Blind Net software.

Uninstall Blind Net Screen



2) When the uninstall process is complete you will see the following dialog window. Click the "Close" button to complete the removal of the old version of Blind Net.



3) The next time you run the Blind Net installer you should see the following dialog window.

Blind Net Setup Screen




Using the Blind Net Software:

To start using Blind Net, double-click its icon.

Blind Net Icon


Once Blind Net has started you will see a screen with a grid on the virtual ground plane, and a green varicolored background. The yellow capitalized letters overlayed on the image below describe the common interface features of Blind Net.

Blind Net General Interface


A
- The " Begin Evaluation" button activates the evaluation mode of the software. In evaluation mode, the software prompts for specific student actions that are then automatically logged and saved to the local hard drive of the computer.

B - This displays the angle of the student's head as she or he is orienting toward a sound. An angle of 0 degrees indicates that the student's head is oriented perfectly to the center point of the emission of a sound source. Negative angle values indicate that the student is looking to the left of the actual center point of the sound source. Positive angle values indicate that the student is looking to the right of the actual center point of the sound source.

Note: In the Blind Net training environment, 0 degrees is often shown by the student's avatar looking directly toward the center of the screen, with the back of the avatar facing (you) the viewer.

C - The "Exit" button exits the Blind Net software.

D - The student's avatar will appear in the center of the training environment, by default.

E - The bright yellow pointer tracks the position of the mouse as it is moved within the 3-D training space. Moving the pointer to a button, then clicking the mouse, activates that button, just as a standard mouse pointer does in a normal 2-D window interface.

F - The Camera Height slider changes the view of the virtual training space, essentially moving the camera's elevation, while adjusting the rotation of the ground plane to maintain a practical point-of-view.




Adjusting the Camera Height :

The camera height slider changes the elevation of the camera in the training space. Below, is an image that shows how the view of the training space will appear when the camera height is adjusted all the way "down" on the screen.

Blind Net Camera Height Set Down


Below, is an image that shows how the view of the training space will appear when the camera height is adjusted all the way "up" on the screen.

Blind Net Camera Height Set Up




Blind Net Program Overview:

Blind Net is a 3-D Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Training environment that allows a teacher or training specialist to work with a single student over the Internet to practice fundamental O&M training activities. Blind Net may be operated online or offline. In online mode a central "master" server connects the O&M trainer to the student so specific sounds and sound layout positions can be set up in the training environment for the student.

Online mode enables the following features of Blind Net:

  • The O&M training specialist may add any of the available sounds from the sound browser library to the training environment. These sounds may then be activated, moved, animated, or or muted by the O&M trainer.
  • The O&M trainer may hear the sounds of the training environment from the point of view of their avatar, or the student's avatar. (An avatar is a virtual representation of a person in a virtual space. The avatars in Blind Net are the human image(s) that are standing in the simulation environment).
  • The O&M trainer and student may use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) sound to talk to each other using computer headsets equipped with microphones. All voice data and speech are managed by the blind Net software, so no telephones are required.
  • The O&M trainer may place any number of sound emitters in the virtual training space and the student will hear them as they are moved, or attached to an animation path. The teacher may turn on or off any available sound emitters at any time.
  • The O&M trainer may initiate an evaluation of student skills, facilitated by the Blind Net software, to probe for changes in the student's ability to identify, localize, and track sounds present in the 3-D training space.
  • Data collected from each student about how long they have trained, and the student's ability to identify, localize, and track specific sounds in the 3-D training space are uploaded to a secure server for further analysis.

Offline mode enables the following features of Blind Net:

  • The O&M training specialist may add any of the available sounds from the sound browser library to the training environment. These sounds may then be activated, moved, animated, or or muted by the O&M trainer.
  • The O&M trainer may initiate an evaluation of student skills, facilitated by the Blind Net software, to probe for changes in the student's ability to identify, localize, and track sounds present in the 3-D training space.
  • Data collected from each student about how long they have trained, and the student's ability to identify, localize, and track specific sounds in the 3-D training space are saved to the local computer having the Blind Net software installed.

The Blind Net software can be run entirely with a mouse. You will see a pointer that moves with the mouse position. When the mouse is clicked on the various buttons and sliders within the interface, different features of the software are activated or altered.

The student moves about in the training space with the arrow keys on the keyboard, or a computer gaming joystick.

Note: In addition to direct mouse control of Blind Net, many features of the software can be controlled with keyboard shortcuts. As the Blind Net development team continues to consult with O&M trainers who are themselves blind, we will keyboard-enable more features of the software to make it fully accessible.




Adding Sounds to the Training Space:

To add a sound to the training environment Right-Click the mouse anywhere on the green "grid" of the ground plane.

Note: Left mouse clicking away from the menu area will dismiss the "Environment" menu.

Blind Net Environment Menu



You will see an option to add a sound. When you click the "Add Sound" menu button you will see the "Sound Browser" screen (see more about the Sound Browser below).

The "Add Anim Path" menu item allows a selected sound to be animated along a defined animation path. To learn more about animation paths see the Animation Path section below.

The "Delete All Sounds" menu item will remove all sound emitting objects from the training space.

The "Stop Playing All Sounds" menu will mute all sound emitting objects in the training space, but each sound object will remain in place.



Altering Sound Objects in the Training Space:

Right-Clicking a sound object in the training space produces the following menu:

Blind Net Sound Objects Menu


When the "Turn Ding On" option is activated for a sound, a red line _____ will appear when the student directly faces a sound object in the training space. A "ping/ding" sound will also play.

Blind Net Ding Sound Active with Line


Play Sound - Plays the currently selected sound.

Turn Ding On - Toggles a "ping/ding" sound that plays every time the center of the student's virtual gaze directly faces the center of a sound emitting object. This is useful for helping the student learn how to orient to a sound so it is centered between their ears, in the center of their personal soundscape.

Change Sound - Changes the currently selected sound to a different sound, using the Sound Browser.

Delete Sound - Removes the currently selected sound from the training space.

Note: Left mouse clicking away from the menu area will dismiss the "Sound" menu.




The Blind Net Sound Browser:

The sound browser is a library of sounds, with sound object icons, that may be added to the Blind Net training space. There are currently over 50 unique sounds in the sound library. The sound browser screen shows as many sound objects as will fit on a single screen, but other sounds may be accessed by clicking the "Page Up", or "Page Down" buttons, or by hitting the "Page Up", or "Page Down" keys on the keyboard.

Moving the mouse over a sound object icon plays that sound, draws a yellow circle around the selected sound object, and its name appears at the top of the sound browser window.

Left + Clicking a selected sound adds it to the training space and exits the Sound Browser window.

Blind Net Sound Browser


The image below shows a selected sound object, which is tinted red, and is surrounded by a yellow circle.

Blind Net Sound Browser Selected Sound



Adding Animation Paths to the Training Space:

Sound objects in Blind Net may be moved with the mouse manually by Left-Clicking and holding the Left mouse button down as the mouse is moved, or they may be assigned to an animation "path". An animation path allows a sound to follow a vector from any two points on the ground plane of the training space. When "Add Anim Path" is selected from the "Environment" menu, two white boxes with red "X" symbols will appear (see below).

The environment menu has an option to "Add Anim Path".

Blind Net Environment Menu


The default position of an animation path is shown below:

Blind Net Animation Path


The two red Xs represent the "reverse direction" points for an animated sound object. The yellow line shows the path the sound object will follow as it moves back and forth between the two Xs. The white boxes with the red Xs may be dragged to any position on the ground plane of the training environment. Depending on the position of the two red Xs, the animation path may appear a horizontal or vertical line, or a diagonal line.

Once a sound object is attached to an animation path, either of the two Xs can be moved to change the position of the path, in real-time. Left-Click one of the Xs, hold the button down, and drag to change the position of a sound path.

Any number of sound paths may be added to the training environment.

Blind Net Animation Path with Attached Sound Object


Right-Clicking
one of the red Xs produces the following menu:

Blind Net Animation Path Menu


Release Sound - detaches the sound from the animation path.

Delete Animpath - removes the animation path from the training environment, but keeps the sound object active.




The Evaluation Mode of Blind Net:

The evaluation mode of Blind Net is designed to provide an objective method to measure fundamental Orientation and Mobility skills in a student. When activated, the Blind Net software will automatically choose a sound object and location within the training space. The student is to then use the arrow keys on the keyboard, or a joystick, to move to where they believe the sound object is located within the training environment. The computer will keep track of how many steps are required for the student to walk up to the sound object, as well as periodically measuring the orientation of the student's head as they approach the object, for each trial. All of these data are logged either to the local hard drive, or the ORI ACSL master server online.

To start a student evaluation, and activate the evaluation mode of Blind Net, click the "Begin Evaluation" button.

Begin Evaluation Button

Blind Net will prompt for each step necessary to conduct the evaluation. Clicking the "Continue" button moves the evaluation trial to the next step.
Evaluation Instructions


During the evaluation, the evaluation status area at the top of the screen will show information about the trial number, the angle of the student's head, and what the student should be doing.

Evaluation Status


Below, is an image showing a student approaching a sound object for an evaluation trial. When the student walks close enough to the sound object, the trail is over.

Evaluation Trial Image


The "Redo Trial" button allows the student to redo a trail part way through if something goes wrong.


Redo Trial Button


The "Cancel Evaluation" button immediately stops the evaluation mode of the software.

Cancel Evaluation Button


When each trial is over, a summary of the student's performance data are displayed.

Trial Data Summary



Configuring Blind Net:

With a default installation of Blind Net you will see a "Run Blind Net" icon (shown above), and a "Configure Blind Net" icon (shown on the right). Blind Net has several configuration options that are described below.

Configure Blind Net Icon


The Login tab of the configuration dialog provides a place for a "user name" and "password" to be entered. These text entries should match the user name and password assigned to you, or your student, by the ORI Applied Computer Simulation Labs. This information is used to authenticate users of the Blind Net software so data and telemetry packets can be tracked by the master server.

Note: In general, it is necessary to click the "Save and Exit" button when you wish for all Blind Net configuration options to be saved permanently. Clicking the "Cancel" button will exit the configuration program without saving any changes to the default configuration.


There is an option to run Blind Net in "offline mode". To enable offline mode, check the box next to the text that says, "Use offline without needing to log into server." Offline mode is useful in situations where the O&M trainer and student are in the same room, or are using a single machine for virtual training activities. In offline mode the name entered in the "Username" field is the name used for storing student performance data and usage information for the Blind Net software.

Offline Configuration Dialog


The Display tab allows the resolution and screen dimensions of Blind Net to be changed. By default, Blind Net will display full screen, and scale it's width and height to fit the available capability of the computer's monitor. If you wish to make Blind Net operate within a window, you may set the "Resolution" and "Bits per Pixel" depth to any of the available sizes. "Resolution" changes the width and height of the display window, and "Bits/Pixel" changes the number of colors used to render the graphics for Blind Net. The default values for the "Display" are recommended.

Blind Net Display Configuration


The Options tab allows the use of an optional head tracker. The head tracker is worn by the student, and measures the angle and position of the student's head as she or he turn their head while participating in training activities. Turning the head with a head tracker has the effect of changing the student's auditory point of view, and simulates a real-world immersive 3-D sound experience. The "Enable Head Tracker" option will only work if the computer is equipped with a 3-D head tracking device.

Blind Net General Options Configuration



General Keyboard Shortcuts:


Blind Net Keyboard Shortcuts

Escape

Alt + F4

Spacebar

Tab

S

A

P

D

Delete

Page Down

Page Up

Enter

E

T

C

Arrow Keys

Return to previous screen.

Quit Blind Net.

Toggle play, animation path release, or next trial.

Select next sound object.

Speak.

Add sound.

Add animation path.

Ding Toggle.

Delete sound.

Next page of sounds (when browsing).

Previous page of sounds (when browsing).

Finish browsing.

Toggle evaluation (eval) mode.

Reset head tracker.

Toggle camera mode.

Move avatar.



Using a Head Tracker:

A head tracker allows the computer to monitor the position of the user's head so it can appropriately, and accurately display spatialized audio in real-time. With a 3-D head tracker the user hears accurate localized sound, relative to the direction their head is turned. This effect is most pronounced with headphones.

BlindNet supports the NaturalPoint TrackIR, and the Intersense iTrax head tracking units. The iTrax has been discontinued, so we will only be maintaining compatibility with the NaturalPoint TrackIR for future releases. However, older iTrax units should continue to function when used with BlindNet.

trackIR-camera.gif

To use the head-tracking capability of BlindNet your computer will need to be equipped with a NaturalPoint TrackIR head-tracker. The TrackIR may be purchased from the NaturalPoint web site - http://www.naturalpoint.com, for less than $100. You will also need to install a driver for the TrackIR to work. To ensure maximum compatibility with the BlindNet software, please download the TrackIR driver here - http://simlabs.ori.org/downloads/doc_download/14-optitrack-driver.html.

For more general information about the TrackIR, an online manual for setting up the TrackIR can be found here: