Impact of a vibrotactile belt on emotionally challenging everyday situations of the blind

  • Charlotte Brandebusemeyer (Geteilte/r Erstautor/in)
  • Anna Ricarda Luther (Geteilte/r Erstautor/in)
  • Sabine U. König
  • Peter König
  • Silke M. Kärcher


Spatial orientation and navigation depend primarily on vision. Blind people lack this critical source of information. To facilitate wayfinding and to increase the feeling of safety for these people, the “feelSpace belt” was developed. The belt signals magnetic north as a fixed reference frame via vibrotactile stimulation. This study investigates the effect of the belt on typical orientation and navigation tasks and evaluates the emotional impact. Eleven blind subjects wore the belt daily for seven weeks. Before, during and after the study period, they filled in questionnaires to document their experiences. A small sub-group of the subjects took part in behavioural experiments before and after four weeks of training, i.e., a straight-line walking task to evaluate the belt’s effect on keeping a straight heading, an angular rotation task to examine effects on egocentric orientation, and a triangle completion navigation task to test the ability to take shortcuts. The belt reduced subjective discomfort and increased confidence during navigation. Additionally, the participants felt safer wearing the belt in various outdoor situations. Furthermore, the behavioural tasks point towards an intuitive comprehension of the belt. Altogether, the blind participants benefited from the vibrotactile belt as an assistive technology in challenging everyday situations.

Bibliografische Daten

StatusVeröffentlicht - 06.11.2021

Anmerkungen des Dekanats

Funding Information:
We want to thank the German association of the blind (Deutsche Blinden-und Sehbehindertenverband, DBSV) and the rehabilitation teachers for the blind for their support in providing test subjects. Further, we want to thank the blind persons who gave valuable insights into their navigation and orientation habits before the study to facilitate communication with the participants of the study. We also want to acknowledge the work of Mareike Bordasch in data collection and initial analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.