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Micromachines 2018, 9(7), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi9070351

Updated Tactile Feedback with a Pin Array Matrix Helps Blind People to Reduce Self-Location Errors

1
Research Unit of Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa 16153, Italy
2
Istituto David Chiossone Onlus, Genoa 16122, Italy
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 June 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 14 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tactile Sensing for Soft Robotics and Wearables)
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Abstract

Autonomous navigation in novel environments still represents a challenge for people with visual impairment (VI). Pin array matrices (PAM) are an effective way to display spatial information to VI people in educative/rehabilitative contexts, as they provide high flexibility and versatility. Here, we tested the effectiveness of a PAM in VI participants in an orientation and mobility task. They haptically explored a map showing a scaled representation of a real room on the PAM. The map further included a symbol indicating a virtual target position. Then, participants entered the room and attempted to reach the target three times. While a control group only reviewed the same, unchanged map on the PAM between trials, an experimental group also received an updated map representing, in addition, the position they previously reached in the room. The experimental group significantly improved across trials by having both reduced self-location errors and reduced completion time, unlike the control group. We found that learning spatial layouts through updated tactile feedback on programmable displays outperforms conventional procedures on static tactile maps. This could represent a powerful tool for navigation, both in rehabilitation and everyday life contexts, improving spatial abilities and promoting independent living for VI people. View Full-Text
Keywords: spatial representation; tactile maps; visual impairment; blindness; pin array matrix; tactile feedback; orientation and mobility; navigation; tactile graphics spatial representation; tactile maps; visual impairment; blindness; pin array matrix; tactile feedback; orientation and mobility; navigation; tactile graphics
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Brayda, L.; Leo, F.; Baccelliere, C.; Ferrari, E.; Vigini, C. Updated Tactile Feedback with a Pin Array Matrix Helps Blind People to Reduce Self-Location Errors. Micromachines 2018, 9, 351.

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