SUPER-FEET: A WIRELESS HAND-FREE NAVIGATION SYSTEM FOR VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
Supervisor: Luciano Gamberini
Graduate student: Francesco Martino
Super-Feet is a non invasive wireless navigation system controlled by natural movements, this device was designed on the basis of the physical locomotion metaphor. The user sitting on a chair can explore virtual environments by accomplishing movements that are similar to the ones he would make in the real world. The system is based on optical tracking so the hardware configuration does not require an excessive workload for the computer. According to previous studies [1, 2], the naturalness of movements seems to be related with higher presence in the virtual environment, so Super-Feet was designed and based on natural feet movements as similar as possible to real walking. Super-Feet detects the movements using a low cost infra-red commercial tracking system: Optitrack , which is connected to the computer via USB interface. The tracking device detects the movement of 2 markers that are positioned on the toe tips of the user’s feet (Fig.1.), so that when the user moves alternatively the toe tips leaving the heels on the floor, the system calculates the vertical velocity for each foot making him move straight forward in the VE.
This allows us to conclude that Super-Feet can be used as a navigation system with similar results to the ones achieved with a commonly accepted navigation device as the joypad. The main advantages that have been obtained with this system when compared with other physical locomotion systems are:
a) It does not require the complexity of mechanical devices such as treadmills.
That makes it more portable and less invasive for the user.
b) It is based on feet movements, so hands are left free for other interactions inside the virtual environment.
c) It is not based on electromagnetical tracking devices, so it is less sensitive to noise and interferences.