ThermoFeet: Assessing On-Foot Thermal Stimuli for Directional Cues

Eska, Bettina and Iyalekhue, Jeff-Owens and Günther, Sebastian and Niess, Jasmin and Müller, Florian

Abstract: Thermal feedback has been studied for navigation purposes with directional cues and a variety of other use cases. Yet, to date, systems providing thermal feedback were primarily designed for the upper body, targeting hands and arms in particular. As these parts are often occupied with other tasks, there is a need to extend the design space of thermal feedback to other body parts. To close this gap, we assess thermal feedback on the user’s feet. This research explores if creating stimuli representing any direction on a circle with only four actuators is possible. To evaluate this concept, we conducted a user study asking the participants to indicate the perceived direction after getting a hot or cold stimulus by direct actuation using one actuator or phantom actuation using two actuators. The results indicate that the detection accuracy was higher for cold signals. In addition, the results showed higher recognition for stimuli linked to actuator distribution than phantom sensation due to spatial summation.