Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Computer Science


Zhigang Zhu

Committee Members

Tony Ro

Yingli Tian

Aries Arditi

Subject Categories

Graphics and Human Computer Interfaces


Assistive technology, visually impaired, games, sensors, usability


In the last few decades, a variety of assistive technologies (AT) have been developed to improve the quality of life of visually impaired people. These include providing an independent means of travel and thus better access to education and places of work. There is, however, no metric for comparing and benchmarking these technologies, especially multimodal systems. In this dissertation, we propose GIVE-ME: Gamification In Virtual Environments for Multimodal Evaluation, a framework which allows for developers and consumers to assess their technologies in a functional and objective manner. This framework is based on three foundations: multimodality, gamification, and virtual reality. It facilitates fuller and more controlled data collection, rapid prototyping and testing of multimodal ATs, benchmarking heterogeneous ATs, and conversion of these evaluation tools into simulation or training tools. Our contributions include: (1) a unified evaluation framework: via developing an evaluative approach for multimodal visual ATs; (2) a sustainable evaluation: by employing virtual environments and gamification techniques to create engaging games for users, while collecting experimental data for analysis; (3) a novel psychophysics evaluation: enabling researchers to conduct psychophysics evaluation despite the experiment being a navigational task; and (4) a novel collaborative environment: enabling developers to rapid prototype and test their ATs with users in an early stakeholder involvement that fosters communication between developers and users. This dissertation first provides a background in assistive technologies and motivation for the framework. This is followed by detailed description of the GIVE-ME Framework, with particular attention to its user interfaces, foundations, and components. Then four applications are presented that describe how the framework is applied. Results and discussions are also presented for each application. Finally, both conclusions and a few directions for future work are presented in the last chapter.