Tactile-Foot Stimulation Can Assist the Navigation of People with Visual ImpairmentReport as inadecuate

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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics - Volume 2015 2015, Article ID 798748, 9 pages -

Research Article

Mecatrónica y Control de Sistemas MCS, Universidad Panamericana, 20290 Aguascalientes, MEX, Mexico

Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et de Robotique ISIR, Université Paris 6, 75005 Paris, France

Dipartimento d’Ingegneria dell’Innovazione DII, Università del Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy

Received 29 September 2014; Revised 25 February 2015; Accepted 25 February 2015

Academic Editor: Estefanía Peña

Copyright © 2015 Ramiro Velázquez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Tactile interfaces that stimulate the plantar surface with vibrations could represent a step forward toward the development of wearable, inconspicuous, unobtrusive, and inexpensive assistive devices for people with visual impairments. Objective. To study how people understand information through their feet and to maximize the capabilities of tactile-foot perception for assisting human navigation. Methods. Based on the physiology of the plantar surface, three prototypes of electronic tactile interfaces for the foot have been developed. With important technological improvements between them, all three prototypes essentially consist of a set of vibrating actuators embedded in a foam shoe-insole. Perceptual experiments involving direction recognition and real-time navigation in space were conducted with a total of 60 voluntary subjects. Results. The developed prototypes demonstrated that they are capable of transmitting tactile information that is easy and fast to understand. Average direction recognition rates were 76%, 88.3%, and 94.2% for subjects wearing the first, second, and third prototype, respectively. Exhibiting significant advances in tactile-foot stimulation, the third prototype was evaluated in navigation tasks. Results show that subjects were capable of following directional instructions useful for navigating spaces. Conclusion. Footwear providing tactile stimulation can be considered for assisting the navigation of people with visual impairments.

Author: Ramiro Velázquez, Edwige Pissaloux, and Aimé Lay-Ekuakille

Source: https://www.hindawi.com/


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