Having created a prototype for the gamified scenario titled Follow Your Partner, designed to help individuals with deafblindness learn how to navigate with the vest, it was time to conduct a pilot study. The study, part of the SUITCEYES project, took place this November in Stuttgart and at Offenburg University with four individuals with deafblindness.
The Follow Your Partner scenario revolves around a fictional story involving two persons: the wearer of the vest (an individual with deafblindness) assuming the role of a special agent who is pursuing a suspect (at the moment a sighted and hearing person for safety reasons). The agent gets navigated throughout the whole game, by vibrations around the waist. Over the course of the game the agent must keep an optimal distance to the suspect. Getting too close to or too far away from the suspect, in either case, results in a mission failure. Throughout the game the suspect can turn towards the agent. During this period the agent must not move until the suspect is facing away from the user where it is safe again for the agent to resume pursuing the suspect.
We have enhanced the prototype utilized for the Easter Egg Hunt Study by incorporating a fisheye camera used to detect special markers with the help of computer vision software. In addition to the vibration motors placed at point-specific locations around the vest, we have included micro-servo motors which are placed on the front and back of the shoulders to create a tapping sensation. Our project partner from Borås University have kindly designed a one-size-fits-most vest for the purpose of the study. This piece of garment can be adjusted in size through a zipping mechanism on either side of the vest and includes small pouches that are sewn into the garment to place actuators inside. Furthermore, wires can be concealed by placing them in between the outer fabric and the lining of the garment.
The four individuals with deafblindness found the scenario thrilling and were surprised by how quickly they could understand the information provided to them through the vibrations and micro-servo motors. This week we have started examining the results of the study and are planning a larger study with deafblind individuals early next year.
We are now looking forward to the SUITCEYES consortium meeting in December where members of the project will be making the trip to Offenburg. Over the two days we will have the chance to work together more closely in workshops and to discuss the next steps of the project.