Haptics for Guide Dog Handlers

Guide dogs have the important responsibility of connecting their visually-impaired users to their immediate surroundings. However, it is often difficult for guide dogs to accurately communicate information to their human partners. This experiment aimed to enhance the platform for communication between guide dogs and handlers by investigating the best vibration feedback methods for handlers to receive information from their guide dogs. We created four different prototypes to test a human's ability to distinguish between four randomly selected vibration patterns. A total of 12 users participated in this pilot study, each receiving 8 minutes of training for familiarization with the prototypes. The results of the pilot study were evaluated based on the users' ability to correctly identify the vibration patterns when prompted, and a questionnaire posed to the users at the end of the experiment. This pilot study yielded an overall accuracy of 97%. It was also found that the smart-watch prototype produced the highest accuracy, while the guide dog harness bar prototype was the most preferred design among the participants. http://scholarworks.csun.edu/handle/10211.3/190209