Helping older pedestrians navigate unknown environments through vibrotactile guidance instructions

Many studies have consistently found evidence of aging-related navigation difficulties that lead to disorientation behaviors and/or reduced travel. Despite technological advances, older pedestrians mainly use paper maps to find their way in unknown environments while they have a lot of difficulties in using and interacting with them efficiently. In this context, the present study was aimed at assessing the effectiveness and acceptability and study older pedestrian’s behavior when wearing a vibrotactile instructions to help them finding their way in an unknown city as compared with visual instructions provided by a paper map. Fifty-eight participants (20 young adults ages 21–45, 20 younger-old adults ages 61–70, and 18 older-old adults ages 71–80) took part in a simulated navigation task where participants had to go from point A to point B in a virtual city. The task was performed either with a vibrotactile wristband delivering directional messages or with a standard paper map showing the visual instructions to follow. The data showed that vibrotactile guidance instructions improved the correct numbers of turns taken (left/right) at simple intersections. They also reduced travel time as compared with visual guidance instructions provided by a paper map. These benefits were greater among the older-old participants, who had trouble using the paper map and thus benefited greatly from the assistance provided by the vibrotactile guidance instructions. These findings suggest that such an assistance device using simple haptic guidance messages is able to improve older pedestrians’ mobility.


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  • Accession Number: 01678545
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 2 2018 3:03PM