Wearable Haptics for Remote Social Walking

by   Tommaso Lisini Baldi, et al.

Walking is an essential activity for a healthy life, which becomes less tiring and more enjoyable if done together. Common difficulties we have in performing sufficient physical exercise, for instance the lack of motivation, can be overcome by exploiting its social aspect. However, our lifestyle sometimes makes it very difficult to find time together with others who live far away from us to go for a walk. In this paper we propose a novel system enabling people to have a 'remote social walk' by streaming the gait cadence between two persons walking in different places, increasing the sense of mutual presence. Vibrations provided at the users' ankles display the partner's sensation perceived during the heel-strike. In order to achieve the aforementioned goal in a two users experiment, we envisaged a four-step incremental validation process: i) a single walker has to adapt the cadence with a virtual reference generated by a software; ii) a single user is tasked to follow a predefined time varying gait cadence; iii) a leader-follower scenario in which the haptic actuation is mono-directional; iv) a peer-to-peer case with bi-directional haptic communication. Careful experimental validation was conducted involving a total of 50 people, which confirmed the efficacy of our system in perceiving the partners' gait cadence in each of the proposed scenarios.


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