Virtual Obstacles in Gait


A few weeks earlier, I talked about two papers I read regarding gait balance when fixed or suddenly appeared obstacles are involved. The papers are Age Effects on Strategies Used to Avoid Obstacles, and Anxiety-mediated gait adaptations reduce errors of obstacle negotiation among younger and older adults: Implications for fall risk.

We have been looking for protocols and virtual environment setups that are helpful in stimulating the conditions where participants would reveal their symptoms of imbalance. Creating virtual obstacles during gait seems to be a great fit for what we are looking for. The immersive environment with 3D audio can delivery a realistic feeling of walking on a street, the suddenly appeared virtual obstacles will become direct stimuli but eliminate the risk of stumbling at the same time. In addition to generating obstacles along the path, I also tried Vive trackers for tracking the position of ankles so that we would know if the feet collide with the virtual obstacles in the scenes. Here is a gif below to show how it looks like. But a lot of features will be modified during the later experiments, such as the dimensions and color of the object, the distance in front of the participant when generating the object, etc. 

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