The day got off to a bad start, because I was in charge of setting up the system and running the computer instead of Zach. I spent 90 minutes fighting with the Bluetooth connection, with copious tech support from Zach. Ultimately, it turned out that we had to use the same USB jack that we used yesterday, along with the same Bluetooth "dongle" (the external USB plug that you have to use to add Bluetooth radio service to a computer that doesn't have it built-in). Once I got both wii devices (cane and belt), as well as the bluetooth headphones all connected, everything went very smoothly; but, there is no question that this aspect of the wiiCane system is the most problemmatic right now, and we need to make connecting to all three devices very easy and foolproof (since it is likely that people operating the system will be fools, like me). I was able to catch up with the schedule, and we finished on time. We had one new student today and seven that were there yesterday.
In general, the purpose of today's testing was to see whether user ability to follow the audio prompts during travel showed measurable improvement after a night's rest. I asked them to continue to walk repeatedly along the course in one direction only. Their instructors helped them to return to the starting point each time. The biggest difference was that I asked them to use the wiiCane this time instead of their own canes. Even though no feedback was provided based on their cane movements, this gave them a chance to become familiar with the new cane, which is heavier then a normal cane, due to the additional weight of the wii device. Since the cane had a roller tip, none of them reported that the cane was too heavy. I also asked them to pay attention to maintaining their index finger of their cane hand extended along the flat face of the grip. I explained why this is important, and how the wii device had to be pointing up towards the ceiling to work properly. In most cases, I observed that they did hold the cane correctly, with a minimum of wrist roll. I don't know for sure whether this will work once we turn on the feedback for wrist roll, but to me it appeared that they can learn to hold their wrist straight with minimal training.
In terms of veering, I noticed some improvement, but since many of the kids were quite good at walking straight (with the help of our system's audio prompts ) yesterday, there was not a marked improvement among the more adept travelers. Two students who had significant trouble mastering the system yesterday did much better today, including the youngest subject, who is 7 and very little, so that suggests that the learning curve for using wiiCane is not very significant. In each test today, I asked the student to walk the course at least 10 times (or until they could do it flawlessly), then I asked them to do it a few more times with the feedback turned off. The results of this were highly variable. One girl seemed to do better with the feedback off, but the others veered substantially and never recovered. The implications of this are unclear and further discussion is needed to be sure of what is happening. It may be that when Annette reviews the videos along with the events logs from the tests, it might become clearer, or after we do more testing at the other three sites.
Tomorrow, Gene and I will go back to the Institute for the final day of testing there. We will be having them do cane movement tasks for the first time, so this will be important for us to see. I will post information about that tomorrow.