Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

Full citation: 
Karuei, I., "Periodic Vibrotactile Guidance,", Ph.D. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 2014.
Emergence of mobile technologies, with their ever increasing computing power, embedded sensors, and connectivity to the Internet has created many new applications such as navigational guidance systems. Unfortunately, these devices can become problematic by inappropriate usage or overloading of the audiovisual channels. Wearable haptics has come to the rescue with the promise of offloading some of the communication from the audiovisual channels. The main goal of our research is to develop a spatiotemporal guidance system based on the potentials and limitations of the sense of touch. Our proposed guidance method, Periodic Vibrotactile Guidance (PVG), guides movement frequency through periodic vibrations to help the user achieve a desired speed and/or finish a task in a desired time. We identify three requirements for a successful PVG system: accurate measurement of the user's movement frequency, successful delivery of vibrotactile cues, and the user's ability to follow the cues at different rates and during auditory multitasking. In Phase 1, we study the sensitivity of different body locations to vibrotactile cues with/without visual workload and under different movement conditions and examine the effect of expectation of location and gender differences. We create a set of design guidelines for wearable haptics. In Phase 2, we develop Robust Realtime Algorithm for Cadence Estimation (RRACE) which measures momentary step frequency/interval via frequency-domain analysis of accelerometer signals available in smartphones. Our results show that, with a 95% accuracy, RRACE is more accurate than the published state-of-the-art time-based algorithm. In Phase 3, we use the guidelines from Phase 1 and the RRACE algorithm to study PVG. First we examine walkers' susceptibility to PVG which shows most walkers can follow the cues with 95% accuracy. Then we examine the effect of auditory multitasking on users' performance and workload, which shows that PVG can successfully guide the walker's speed during multitasking. Our research expands the reach of wearable haptics and guidance technologies by providing design guidelines, a robust cadence detection algorithm, and Periodic Vibrotactile Guidance -- an intuitive method of communicating spatiotemporal information in a continuous manner -- which can successfully guide movement speed with little to no learning required.
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