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New psychological study with the ET published April 3, 2019

Posted by Tom Froese in Publications.
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Route Selection and Obstacle Avoidance with a Short-Range Haptic Sensory Substitution Device

Lorena Lobo, Patric C. Nordbeck, Vicente Raja, Anthony Chemero, Michael A. Riley, David M. Jacobs, David Travieso

The design of Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs) often relies on the belief that the information supplied by the devices should allow the construction of spatial mental representations on the basis of which routes are planned. This study, in contrast, illustrates that navigation using an SSD can be conceived as an on-line, dynamic process, without the need for establishing a predefined plan or model of the task prior to its execution. We analyzed route selection performed with a vibrotactile SSD that could detect environmental surfaces only within a short spatial range, limiting the availability of information about remote parts of the environment to be navigated. Sixty sighted participants performed a navigation task that involved the goal of reaching a target destination while avoiding five obstacles (placed in randomly predetermined configurations). Three groups of participants differed in the sensory modality used (restricted visual, acoustic + vibrotactile, and restricted visual + vibrotactile). While participants in the visual condition had fewer obstacle collisions and reached the target location sooner, the groups coincided to a large extent in terms of the routes that they followed. Furthermore, the routes selected by participants in all groups conformed well to routes predicted by a dynamic model of visually-guided locomotion (Fajen and Warren, 2003). These findings show that local, limited information about environmental layout can support route selection equivalent to that seen when information about the full environmental layout is available.

New study with Enactive Torch June 1, 2018

Posted by Tom Froese in Publications.
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Perceptually Equivalent Judgments made Visually and via Haptic Sensory Substitution Devices

Luis H. Favela, Michael A. Riley, Kevin Shockley & Anthony Chemero

According to the ecological theory of perception-action, perception is primarily of affordances, which are directly perceivable opportunities for behavior. The current study evaluated participants’ ability to use vision and haptic sensory-substitution devices to support perceptual judgments of affordances involving the task of passing through apertures. Sighted participants made perceptual judgments about whether they could walk through apertures of various widths and their level of confidence in each judgment, using unrestricted vision and, when blindfolded, using two haptic sensory-substitution instruments: a cane-like wooden rod and the Enactive Torch, a device that converts distance information into vibrotactile stimuli. The boundary between aperture widths that were judged as pass-through-able versus non-pass-through-able was statistically equivalent across sensory modalities. However, participants were not as confident in their judgments using the rod or Enactive Torch as they were using vision. Additionally, participants’ judgments with the haptic instruments were significantly more accurate than with vision. The results underscore the need to assess sensory-substitution devices in the context of functional behaviors.

Enactive Torch RT and Github November 15, 2016

Posted by Bill Bigge in Uncategorized.
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We have just created a repository on Github for the new Enactive Torch RT. This will now be the place to find the latest instructions, software and design files for the new devices.


ET-RT 1.0 under development October 18, 2016

Posted by Bill Bigge in General, Technical.
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A new version of the Enactive Torch is under development at Creative Robotics. Its be slightly renamed as the ‘Enactive Torch Research Tool’ or ET-RT in order to reset the slightly muddled version numbering system used with the old devices.

An initial set of boards are in the process of being tested and a fancy new case is being 3D printed for it.

The new design is based around the ATMega32u4 micro-controller and it incorporates a 9 degree of freedom inertial sensor module so that a full set of motion and orientation data can be captured and streamed back to a computer using the integrated Bluetooth radio. The inertial sensor provides three axis each of acceleration, rotation and geomagnetic field sensing and these can be combined on the device to track the precise orientation of the Enactive Torch.

It also has an adjustable sensor head and makes use of newer Linear Resonant Actuators – LRA’s – to provide the haptic feedback. The ET-RT can drive two LRA’s independently, it has one mounted internally plus a pair of jack sockets for attaching two external ones, one of which will override the internal LRA. It comes with a 1000mAh Lithium battery and can be recharged from the USB port.

As with the old device this one is programmable via USB using the free Arduino IDE. The entire project is open source so the software will be made available along with the design files for the case and PCB.

Render and Features

New mini-ET in the making December 15, 2014

Posted by Tom Froese in Technical.

Adam Spiers is currently developing a mini version of the Enactive Torch. In addition to the smaller design, this ET features a new output modality in addition to vibration: skin stretching. A pilot study comparing these two modalities is currently being planned.

Mini Enactive Torch

In the above photo the new skin-stretch output can be seen below the user’s thumb.

The existing version of the Enactive Torch will continue to be available from Creative Robotics. Note that only the full-sized version has the complete data recording and transfer capabilities.

How to get an Enactive Torch August 14, 2014

Posted by Tom Froese in General, Technical.
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There are two ways of obtaining an Enactive Torch:

1) For people with experience in engineering and electronics, there is the option of building your own device. We manage the Enactive Torch as an open source project, so all the technical details are freely available.

2) For people who do not have the time or experience to build their own Enactive Torch, they can also buy one from Creative Robotics. Please contact them at the following e-mail address: sales@creative-robotics.com.

Thank you for your interest!

The Enactive Torch in the news August 12, 2014

Posted by Tom Froese in Uncategorized.
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The Enactive Torch in the news…

Dr. Tom Froese

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have started testing the Enactive Torch for use by people who are visually impaired. Here are two reports:

Robinette, T. (2014, August 11). ‘Seeing’ through virtual touch is believing.University of Cincinnati News. Retrieved from http://www.uc.edu/news/

Rivas, A. (2014, August 11). Visually impaired will benefit from new infrared device: Enactive Torch helps the blind to ‘see’ without canes. Medical Daily. Retrieved from http://www.medicaldaily.com/

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IEEE Haptics Podcast on the Enactive Torch January 11, 2013

Posted by Tom Froese in General, Presentations, Publications.
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Our paper on the Enactive Torch, entitled The Enactive Torch: A New Tool for the Science of Perception, which was published in IEEE Transactions on Haptics, is discussed in that journal’s latest podcast. The coverage starts at 11:00.

New technology for consciousness science July 11, 2012

Posted by Tom Froese in Publications.
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In this forthcoming paper the motivations and methods for the Enactive Torch are described in more detail:

Using Human–Computer Interfaces to Investigate ‘Mind-As-It-Could-Be’ from the First-Person Perspective

Tom Froese • Keisuke Suzuki • Yuta Ogai •Takashi Ikegami

There is a growing community of researchers who are interested in establishing a science of the experiential or ‘lived’ aspects of the human mind. This shift from cognitive science to consciousness science presents a profound challenge to synthetic approaches. To be sure, symbolic artificial intelligence constituted the original foundation of cognitive science; subsequent progress in robotics has helped to pioneer a new understanding of the mind as essentially embodied, situated, and dynamical, while artificial life has informed the concept of biological self-organization. However, with regard to the development of a science of the experienced mind, the relevance of these synthetic approaches still remains uncertain. We propose to address the challenge of first-person experience by designing new human–computer interfaces, which aim to artificially mediate a participant’s sensorimotor loop such that novel kinds of experience can emerge for the user. The advantage of this synthetic approach is that computer interface technology enables us to systematically vary the ways in which participants experience the world and thereby allows us to systematically investigate ‘mind-as-it-could-be’ from the first-person perspective. We illustrate the basic principles of this method by drawing on examples from our research in sensory substitution, virtual reality, and interactive installation.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics July 11, 2012

Posted by Tom Froese in Publications.
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What is it like to use the Enactive Torch? The first systematic study of the experience of using this devise is going to come out soon in IEEE Transactions on Haptics. The title and abstract are as follows.

The Enactive Torch: A New Tool for the Science of Perception

Tom Froese, Marek McGann, William Bigge, Adam Spiers, and Anil K. Seth

The cognitive sciences are increasingly coming to terms with the embodied, embedded, extended, and experiential aspects of the mind. Exemplifying this shift, the enactive approach points to an essential role of goal-directed bodily activity in the generation of meaningful perceptual experience, i.e., sense-making. Here, building on recent insights into the transformative effects of practical tool-use, we make use of the enactive approach in order to provide a definition of an enactive interface in terms of augmented sense-making. We introduce such a custom-built interface, the Enactive Torch, and present a study of its experiential effects. The results demonstrate that the user experience is not adequately captured by any standardly assumed perceptual modality; rather, it is a new feeling that is mediated by the design of the device and shaped by the overall situation of the task. Taken together these findings show that there is much to be gained by synergies between engineering and the cognitive sciences in the creation of new experience-centered technology. We suggest that the guiding principle should be the design of interfaces that serve as a transparent medium for augmenting our natural skills of interaction with the world, instead of requiring conscious attention to the interface as an opaque object in the world.