Testing a Shape-Changing Haptic Navigation Device with Vision-Impaired and Sighted Audiences in an Immersive Theatre Setting

Spiers, Adam J; van der Linden, Janet; Wiseman, Sarah and Oshodi, Maria. 2018. Testing a Shape-Changing Haptic Navigation Device with Vision-Impaired and Sighted Audiences in an Immersive Theatre Setting. IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, 48(6), pp. 614-625. ISSN 2168-2291 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Flatland was an immersive “in-the-wild” experimental theater and technology project, undertaken with the goal of developing systems that could assist “real-world” pedestrian navigation for both vision-impaired (VI) and sighted individuals, while also exploring inclusive and equivalent cultural experiences for VI and sighted audiences. A novel shape-changing handheld haptic navigation device, the “Animotus,” was developed. The device has the ability to modify its form in the user's grasp to communicate heading and proximity to navigational targets. Flatland provided a unique opportunity to comparatively study the use of novel navigation devices with a large group of individuals (79 sighted, 15 VI) who were primarily attending a theater production rather than an experimental study. In this paper, we present our findings on comparing the navigation performance (measured in terms of efficiency, average pace, and time facing targets) and opinions of VI and sighted users of the Animotus as they negotiated the 112 m 2 production environment. Differences in navigation performance were nonsignificant across VI and sighted individuals and a similar range of opinions on device function and engagement spanned both groups. We believe more structured device familiarization, particularly for VI users, could improve performance and incorrect technology expectations (such as obstacle avoidance capability), which influenced overall opinion. This paper is intended to aid the development of future inclusive technologies and cultural experiences.

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14 August 2018Accepted
27 September 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Sep 2018 13:43

Last Modified:

22 Mar 2021 18:20

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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