User Abilities in Detecting Vibrotactile Signals on the Feet Under Varying Attention Loads

  • Alison GibsonEmail author
  • Andrea Webb
  • Leia Stirling
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9743)


The future of human space exploration will involve extra-vehicular activities (EVA) on foreign planetary surfaces (i.e. Mars), an activity that will have significantly different characteristics than the common exploration scenarios on Earth. The required use of a bulky, pressurized EVA suit perceptually disconnects human explorers from the hostile foreign environment, increasing the navigation workload and risk of collision associated with traversing through unfamiliar, rocky terrain. To assist the explorer in such tasks, multi-modal information presentation devices are being designed and evaluated. One application is to assist astronauts in ground obstacle avoidance via tactile channels of the feet. Before utilizing these signals as a form of information presentation, it is necessary to first characterize the tactile perception capabilities of the feet for selected vibration location and signal types, in particular during distracted attention states. The perception of tactile signals must be robust under various cognitive loads as the user will be involved in multiple tasks. The current study consisted of participants completing a vibrotactile detection study, with independent variables of attention state, vibration location and vibration signal type. Tactile cues were provided using haptic motor vibrations at six different locations on each foot for four different vibration levels (High, Low, Increasing and Decreasing), resulting in 24 unique vibrations per foot. Each treatment was repeated six times per attention state and vibrations were presented randomly within a time window of 2–7 s. After each trial, participants indicated the location and level of the vibration perceived. Accuracy of response was analyzed across conditions and results provide implications for the presentation of tactile information on the feet under varying attention states.


Haptics Vibrotactile display Foot perception Attention 


  1. 1.
    NASA. Std-3000. man systems integration standards. National Aeronautics andSpace Administration, Houston, USA (1995)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Godfroy, M., Wenzel, E.M.: Human dimensions in multimodal wearable virtual simulators for extra vehicular activities. In: Proceedings of the NATO Workshop on Human Dimensions in Embedded Virtual Simulation, Orlando, FL (2009)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Holden, K., Ezer, N., Vos, G.: Evidence report: risk of inadequate human-computer interaction. NASA Human Research Program: Space Human Factors and Habitability (2013)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Srikulwong, M., O’Neill, E.: A comparative study of tactile representation techniques for landmarks on a wearable device. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2029–2038. ACM (2011)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sebe, N., Jaimes, A.: Multimodal human-computer interaction: a survey. Comput. Vis. Image Underst. 108, 116–134 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Scheggi, S., Morbidi, F., Prattichizzo, D.: Human-robot formation control via visual and vibrotactile haptic feedback. IEEE Trans. Haptics 7(4), 499–511 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sergi, F., Accoto, D., Campolo, D., Guglielmelli, E.: Forearm orientation guidance with a vibrotactile feedback bracelet: on the directionality of tactile motor communication. In: 2008 2nd IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics, BioRob 2008, pp. 433–438. IEEE (2008)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Matscheko, M., Ferscha, A., Riener, A., Lehner, M.: Tactor placement in wrist worn wearables. In: 2010 International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC), pp. 1–8. IEEE (2010)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Guo, W., Ni, W., Chen, I., Ding, Z.Q., Yeo, S.H., et al.: Intuitive vibro-tactile feedback for human body movement guidance. In: 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO), pp. 135–140. IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Stanley, A.A., Kuchenbecker, K.J.: Evaluation of tactile feedback methods for wrist rotation guidance. IEEE Trans. Haptics 5(3), 240–251 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bosman, S., Groenendaal, B., Findlater, J.-W., Visser, T., de Graaf, M., Markopoulos, P.: GentleGuide: an exploration of haptic output for indoors pedestrian guidance. In: Chittaro, L. (ed.) Mobile HCI 2003. LNCS, vol. 2795, pp. 358–362. Springer, Heidelberg (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Van Erp, J.B.F., Van Veen, H.A.H.C., Jansen, C., Dobbins, T.: Waypoint navigation with a vibrotactile waist belt. ACM Trans. Appl. Percept. (TAP) 2(2), 106–117 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tsukada, K., Yasumura, M.: ActiveBelt: belt-type wearable tactile display for directional navigation. In: Mynatt, E.D., Siio, I. (eds.) UbiComp 2004. LNCS, vol. 3205, pp. 384–399. Springer, Heidelberg (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Srikulwong, M., O’Neill, E.: Wearable tactile display of directions for pedestrian navigation: comparative lab and field evaluations. In: 2013 World Haptics Conference (WHC), pp. 503–508. IEEE (2013)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Flores, G., Kurniawan, S., Manduchi, R., Martinson, E., Morales, L.M., Sisbot, E.A.: Vibrotactile guidance for wayfinding of blind walkers. IEEE Trans. Haptics 8(3), 306–317 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lee, B.-C., Martin, B.J., Sienko, K.H.: Comparison of non-volitional postural responses induced by two types of torso based vibrotactile stimulations. In: 2012 IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS), pp. 195–198. IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lieberman, J., Breazeal, C.: TIKL: development of a wearable vibrotactile feedback suit for improved human motor learning. IEEE Trans. Robot. 23(5), 919–926 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Watanabe, J., Ando, H.: Pace-sync shoes: intuitive walking-pace guidance based on cyclic vibro-tactile stimulation for the foot. Virtual Reality 14(3), 213–219 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    IDEO. Technojewelry for ideo (2001).
  20. 20.
    Lavie, N.: Distracted and confused?: selective attention under load. Trends Cogn. Sci. 9(2), 75–82 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lavie, N.: Perceptual load as a necessary condition for selective attention. J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. 21(3), 451 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lavie, N.: Selective attention, cognitive control: dissociating attentional functions through different types of load. Attention Perform. XVIII, 175–194 (2000)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fitousi, D., Wenger, M.J.: Processing capacity under perceptual and cognitive load: a closer look at load theory. J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. 37(3), 781 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Trulsson, M.: Mechanoreceptive afferents in the human sural nerve. Exp. Brain Res. 137(1), 111–116 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Priplata, A., Niemi, J., Salen, M., Harry, J., Lipsitz, L.A., Collins, J.J.: Noise-enhanced human balance control. Phys. Rev. Lett. 89(23), 238101 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Steinbach, E., Hirche, S., Ernst, M., Brandi, F., Chaudhari, R., Kammerl, J., Vittorias, I.: Haptic communications. Proc. IEEE 100, 937–955 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Draper LaboratoryCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations