Emerging Technologies

Buru-Navi3: Behavioral Navigation Using an Illusory Pulled Sensation Created by a Thumb-Sized Vibrator

When a small mass in a hand-held device oscillates along a single axis with asymmetric acceleration, the user typically experiences a kinesthetic illusion characterized by the sensation of being continuously pushed or pulled by the device. Although the average magnitudes of the two opposite forces are the same, reducing the magnitude of the longer and weaker force to below a sensory threshold gives the user a feeling of being pulled in one direction. Based on this kinesthetic illusion, this project proposes a novel pedestrian-route application system.

A thumb-sized force display, whose size and weight are decreased by over 90% compared with previous prototypes, is demonstrateed in four applications:

• Pedestrian navigation with a fiducial-marker-based tracking system

• Tug-of-war using a pair of Buru-Navi3 devices

• Angling game

• Calligraphy guidance using a Buru-Navi3 device.

The system consists of a tablet computer with two-degree-of-freedom force feedback display attached, a tracking server, and fiducial markers on the ceiling for tracking position. The tablet's front camera faces the ceiling's marker grid affixed. A pilot study proved that active detection of the sensation of being pulled or pushed effectively encourages a user to walk along a desired path.

This force-display technology will open a new horizon of applications in mobile devices, such as communication, entertainment, and education, as well as pedestrian navigation.

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Tomohiro Amemiya
NTT Communication Science Laboratories

Hiroaki Gomi
NTT Communication Science Laboratories