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Design of a Radio Direction Finder for Search and Rescue Operations: Estimation, Sonification, and Virtual Prototyping

David Poirier-Quinot 1, 2, 3
2 Audio Acoustique
LIMSI - Laboratoire d'Informatique pour la Mécanique et les Sciences de l'Ingénieur
ETIS - UMR 8051 - Equipes Traitement de l'Information et Systèmes
Abstract : This research investigates the design of a radio Direction Finder (DF) for rescue operation using victims' cellphone as localization beacons. The conception is focused on an audio interface, using sound to progressively guide rescuers towards their target. The thesis' ambition is to exploit the natural mechanisms of human hearing to improve the global performance of the search process rather than to develop new Direction-Of-Arrival (DOA) estimation techniques. Classical DOA estimation techniques are introduced along with a range of tools to assess their efficiency. Based on these tools, a case study is proposed regarding the performance that might be expected from a lightweight DF design tailored to portable operation. It is shown that the performance of high-resolution techniques usually implemented for DOA estimation are seriously impacted by any size-constraint applied on the DF, particularly in multi-path propagation conditions. Subsequently, a review of interactive parameter mapping sonification is proposed. Various sonification paradigms are designed and assessed regarding their capacity to convey information related to different levels of DF outputs. Listening tests are conducted suggesting that trained subjects are capable of monitoring multiple audio streams and gather information from complex sounds. Said tests also indicate the need for a DF sonification that perceptively orders the presented information, for beginners to be able to effortlessly focus on the most important data only. Careful attention is given to sound aesthetic and how it impacts operators' acceptance and trust in the DF, particularly regarding the perception of measurement noise during the navigation. Finally, a virtual prototype is implemented that recreates DF-based navigation in a virtual environment to evaluate the proposed sonification mappings. In the meantime, a physical prototype is developed to assess the ecological validity of the virtual evaluations. Said prototype exploits a software defined radio architecture for rapid iteration through design implementations. The overall performance evaluation study is conducted in consultation with rescue services representatives and compared with their current search solutions. It is shown that, in this context, simple DF designs based on the parallel sonification of the output signal of several antennas may produce navigation performance comparable to these of more complex designs based on high-resolution methods. As the task objective is to progressively localize a target, the system's cornerstone appears to be the robustness and consistency of its estimations rather than its punctual accuracy. Involving operators in the estimation allows avoiding critical situations where one feels helpless when faced with an autonomous system producing non-sensical estimations. Virtual prototyping proved to be a sensible and efficient method to support this study, allowing for fast iterations through sonifications and DF designs implementations.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 12:04:40 PM
Last modification on : Monday, December 13, 2021 - 9:16:20 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 8:35:24 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-01182898, version 1


David Poirier-Quinot. Design of a Radio Direction Finder for Search and Rescue Operations: Estimation, Sonification, and Virtual Prototyping. Human-Computer Interaction [cs.HC]. UPMC, 2015. English. ⟨tel-01182898⟩



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