A Walk In The Shoes Of Another—With VR

Researchers in Japan have developed a virtual reality-based system that combines visual stimuli and foot vibrations to replicate the experience of walking.

AsianScientist (Nov.8, 2019) – A research team in Japan has developed a virtual reality system that allows people to ‘walk in another person’s shoes.’ Their findings are published in the journal i-Perception.

Walking is a natural and frequent action performed by healthy adults in everyday life. It involves various sensations such as vision, touch and hearing to coordinate motor commands and actions. Developing a virtual reality system capable of reproducing the experience of walking is therefore no simple feat.

In this study, researchers led by Professor Michiteru Kitazaki at the Toyohashi University of Technology, Associate Professor Tomohiro Amemiya at the University of Tokyo and Professor Yasushi Ikei at Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed a system that can replicate the holistic experience of walking.

The system records a person walking, then replays it to another user via a video feed with synchronous foot vibrations. Psychological experiments confirmed that the sensations of self-motion, walking, leg action and telepresence provided by the video feed combined with foot vibrations are stronger than with randomized-timing vibrations, or without any vibrations.

These results suggest that visual stimuli synchronized with foot vibrations are effective for creating virtual walking sensations. The virtual walking system can reproduce experiences of walking to people who are a distance away, or who have a disability that could prevent them from walking.

“We would like to develop the virtual reality system further, enabling people to walk on strange places such as the Moon or the ocean bottom, and possibly improving the quality of life of people who have walking disabilities,” said Kitazaki.

“This research is the first step to achieving these goals. Accordingly, we aim to create the virtual sensation of walking using limited modalities, such as vision and tactile sensations,” he added.

The article can be found at: Kitazaki et al. (2019) Virtual Walking Sensation by Prerecorded Oscillating Optic Flow and Synchronous Foot Vibration.


Source: Toyohashi University of Technology. Photo: Toyohashi University of Technology.
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