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Using wrist vibrations to guide hand movement and whole body navigation

Abstract : In the absence of vision, mobility and orientation are challenging. Audio and tactile feedback can be used to guide visually impaired people. In this paper, we present two complementary studies on the use of vibrational cues for hand guidance during the exploration of itineraries on a map, and whole body-guidance in a virtual environment. Concretely, we designed wearable Arduino bracelets integrating a vibratory motor producing multiple patterns of pulses. In a first study, this bracelet was used for guiding the hand along unknown routes on an interactive tactile map. A wizard-of-Oz study with six blindfolded participants showed that tactons, vibrational patterns, may be more efficient than audio cues for indicating directions. In a second study, this bracelet was used by blindfolded participants to navigate in a virtual environment. The results presented here show that it is possible to significantly decrease travel distance with vibrational cues. To sum up, these preliminary but complementary studies suggest the interest of vibrational feedback in assistive technology for mobility and orientation for blind people.
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Anke Brock, Slim Kammoun, Marc J.-M. Macé, Christophe Jouffrais. Using wrist vibrations to guide hand movement and whole body navigation. i-com, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2014, Special Issue: Accessibility, 13 (3), pp. 19-28. ⟨10.1515/icom.2014.0026⟩. ⟨hal-01153779⟩

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