Blindness dramatically limits quality of life of individuals and has profound implications for the person affected and the society as a whole. Physical mobility and exercises are strongly spurred within people, as ways to maintain health and well-being.
We introduce a novel use of haptic feedback in this context. In particular, the skier can receive directional information through two vibrating bracelets worn on both the forearms. At the same time, the instructor can take advantage of his instrumented ski pole to pass information to the skier. The communication through haptic cues has been proven to be processed faster by the brain, demanding a less cognitive effort with respect to the auditory level.
The visually impaired is provided with a pair of vibrotactile bracelets, and a mobile computing device, e.g., a smartphone. The instructor is provided with a pair of augmented ski poles, embedding two additional electronic devices. Each augmenting device is composed of a microcontroller, a wireless communication antenna, a battery for powering the electronics, and a switch. Each pole is connected wireless with the mobile computing devices worn by the blind skier. Pressing the switch mounted on the left/right poles triggers a signal, with the aim to activate the left/right vibrating bracelet worn by the blind skier. This triggering signal is directly sent through the wireless communication to the mobile computing device on the blind skier, whose maximum distance from the ski instructor must be lower than 10 m, being this a confident functioning distance for the wireless communication. Once the mobile computing device has received a triggering signal, it activated the corresponding vibrotactile bracelet. The bracelet keep vibrating until the instructor press again the button. This solution allows the instructor to regulate the length of the haptic stimulus.
Conference Website: http://www.augmented-human.com
M. Aggravi, G. Salvietti, D. Prattichizzo
“Haptic assistive bracelets for blind skier guidance”
Proceedings of the 7th Augmented Human International Conference 2016, ACM, 2016.