Tenth International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp 2008), accepted for publication
Continuous visual and auditory stimulation has made human perception prone to "overseeing" and "overhearing". Moreover, in some situations, visual and auditory stimuli yield to misleading or false perception. This is particularly the case with the perception of space, e.g. when it comes to the estimation of distances, or the determination of direction. This paper addresses the issue on how humans perceive space, like room space, work space, construction space, outdoor space, etc. We propose to amplify (or readjust) the perception of space aside the primary senses (i) vision and (ii) audition by (iii) tactation. In order to enhance space awareness of humans, we opt for a vibro-tactile notification system whenever eyes, ears and hands are in charge. A body worn, belt like vibration system has been developed, delivering tactile notifications about distance and orientation to the user in a very subtle, unobtrusive, yet demanding style. A series of user tests has been conducted investigating the perception of distance to physical objects, like walls or obstacles, in the vicinity of users. Results encourage for a whole new class of space awareness solutions. In the video, one category of applications is highlighted: safety of workers in construction and manufacturing.