Sunday, August 23, 2009

Research on veering

According to an article in the New York Times, our work on WiiCane is highly relevant to ongoing research in the multi-sensory perception. The article discusses work by Dr. Jan L. Souman of Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. Dr. Souman is seeking scientific explanations for the "lost hiker" phenomenon, where people without access to visual cues always loop back on themselves when they are intending to walk in a straight line. One interesting outcome of this work is that it debunks the theory that the tendency to veer is an outcome of one leg being shorter than the other, since circling can happen in either direction (in the same individual). While WiiCane is not intended as a training system for hikers, I think we should pay attention to this parallel line of inquiry. If we can demonstrate that, using corrective and supportive audio and/or vibratory feedback, it is possible to teach people to walk straight, the research community may be interested to know about this. I sent Dr. Souman an email about WiiCane, I will post his response if he replies.

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