Towards a cognitive model of human mobility : an investigation of tactile perception for use in mobility devices
Human mobility is one of the most complex cognitive tasks, especially in the absence of the sight (case of visually impaired or robots). This paper investigates the contributions of the tactile modality to execution of some elementary tasks underlying the mobility of visually impaired. A computational model of mobility is proposed. The model is inspired by insects’ (ants’) mobility. Its originality comes from the representation of the perceived scene. Such representation -named tactile gist - is based on spatial arrangement of objects across the perceived scene (and not on the geometry of the scene, principle frequently implemented in humanoid robots). The proposed model of mobility has been evaluated with a set of original experiments run on a specific perception-movement platform and associated touch stimulating device carried out by blindfolded subjects. Collected results show that the proposed model offers data relevant for visually impaired mobility assistance. Therefore, the tactile gist might be integrated in assistive device for visually impaired. Associated to human knowledge of tactile stimulus perception and in the context of visually impaired mobility, the tactile gist becomes a cognitive map of the space for mobility assistance. ©2016 Journal of Navigation.