Saturday, January 31, 2009

Feedback for young subjects

This is not a new topic, but one which still seems unresolved. One of the discussions which we had with both the focus group and advisory board is the nature of feedback -- that is the type of reinforcement(s) that will work for system users (i.e., subjects). We are particularly concerned about young visually impaired travelers who may not readily understand that a particular stimulus is meant to be a positive indication of cane behavior. Parents and specialists indicated that some users may respond with behaviors that elicit any type of stim. Bells, chime, and pleasant sounds have been suggested. Spoken messages have been suggested, as well as vibratory output.

We have participants with many years of experience with younger travelers. I am wondering if blog participants can discuss from their experiences what kind of reinforcements makes the most sense. We are still not certain of the exact capacity if the wii output for feedback, but we should consider all options right now.


sl said...

test comment

Karen said...

Greetings to all, and thanks for inviting me to join the conversation. I am not a specialist in pre-K or elementary kids. Still, as an educated semi-generalist, I could see human speech being used very effectively. For the sake of argument, I'm assuming that we would have the capacity to create sound that's heard on the left, on the right and in the center and that subjects would be able to discriminate these directions with high accuracy. I would have a young woman's voice. When the subject is walking straight, the "speaker" would deliver mildly positive messages that would be heard in the center. When the subject veers to the left, s/he would hear in the left ear, the same voice saying "uh oh," and in the center, "Come back." Tone singsongy with no hint of anger. If subject responds, s/he hears "good, great!" Again, this would be heard in the center, and then it would go back to the more neutral speech. If s/he doesn't respond, the "Uh oh" "Come back" sequence would be repeated. I think the tone and quality of the speech is very important. I would want the subject to see this as a game with the speaker as a kind of older "invisible" partner. Just my fanciful thoughts, but I admit to being very curious as to how this might work.

sl said...

Thanks very much for this input karen. This is exactly the type of discussion that we hope to promote through the blog. The system also sent me a nice email letting me know that your comment had been posted, which may be because I have subscribed to this blog. Gene and I were trying to figure out how to do it, and I believe this is the answer. I didn't use any third party feed organizer. I think that your comments regarding the use of language as feedback is exactly right, although I don't believe there is anything wrong with mixing speech and sounds. We do that all the time in TTT, and people like it and find it intuitive. So, in cases where a word or phrase can encode more information than a tone or buzz, we should do it. the problem that I am still wrestling with is how or whether it is possible to deliver feedback about two aspects of cane technique at the same. for example, is it possible to add a short pulse of vibration every time the cane passes the tape line on the floor (which I believe would allow people to correct their veering), while also using speech to say something like, "try increasing your arc width". We have been having a side discussion about whether the most effective teaching calls for isolating each component of a complex skill, or taking a more wholistic approach. We believe that our apparatus will be able to measure several aspects of cane use, but we don't yet know which of those to provide feedback about. I see this as a crucial question.

GB said...

Karen, regarding your thoughts on directionality and the source of the sound . . . only if we use wireless headphone would we be able to produce sounds from left, right, or a perceived elsewhere. If we decide to use only the Wii controller the sound source will be from the cane.

Steve, while it might be possible and beneficial to have the capacity to give feedback on multiple skills during a single training (0or series of trainings), it seems to me that during the stages of this current project no user (subject) will ever achieve a proficiency where that would be a good idea. And it would be a nightmare to look at the multiple changes in behaviors and analyze them without some heavy regression analysis (I think).