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VR System Lets Users Experience Walking in Another Person’s Shoes

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Researchers from the Toyohashi University of Technology have developed a virtual walking system. The system records a person walking and then replays it to another user through the oscillating optic flow and synchronous foot vibrations.

The proposed recording system captures the walker’s oscillating optic flow with a pair of stereo cameras, and records the timings of feet striking the ground using four microphones embedded in the walker’s shoes. The system comprises a large-field-of-view head-mounted display (HMD) and four vibrators attached to the heels and the forefeet.

Virtual walking system, Toyohashi University.

System overview. Courtesy of Toyohashi University of Technology.

In experiments, researchers found that the captured first-person-view scenes with image oscillations caused by the walker’s head motion and the foot vibrations at synchronized timings significantly induced the sensations of self-motion, walking, leg action, and telepresence. The synchronous presentation of visual oscillations and foot vibrations was critical for enhancing the experience. The foot vibration had to match the actual walking, while the randomized vibrations had no effect.

“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,” professor Michiteru Kitazaki said. “This research is the first step to achieving these goals.”

The research was published in i-Perception (https://doi.org/10.1177/2041669519882448). 

Published: October 2019
Glossary
virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment or experience that can be interacted with and explored by an individual using electronic devices, such as a headset with a display. VR aims to create a sense of presence, immersing users in a computer-generated world that can be entirely fictional or a replication of the real world. It often involves the use of specialized hardware and software to provide a fully immersive and interactive experience. ...
Research & TechnologyeducationAsia-PacificToyohashi University of TechnologyOpticsoscillating optic flowvisual flowvirtual realityConsumerDisplayshead-mounted displaysvirtual walking systemTech Pulse

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