Adaptive treadmill control

Treadmills allow for unlimited walking through virtual worlds. This, however, is not as simple as it may seem. In order to create an immersive virtual environment, the user should ideally not be aware of the fact that he/she is walking on a treadmill, instead of a real environment.
This creates conflicting demands on treadmill speed control: on the one hand, the user should be kept on the treadmill, meaning that the treadmill should change its speed rapidly enough to match that of the user, while on the other hand the user should stay unaware of changes in treadmill speed, because they might disrupt the immersiveness of the virtual environment.
Together with researchers of the University of Rome, we developed a control algorithm that meets these two demands and performed an evaluation study to fine tune its parameters. The algorithm is based on minimization of the differences between the position of the user and the centre of the treadmill and between the walking speed of the user and the speed of the treadmill. Evaluation showed that performance of the algorithm was very satisfactory, although the full length of our treadmill (almost 6 m.) was necessary. Further studies will evaluate the contribution of the visual environment.
Last updated: Tuesday, 07.05.2013