Abstract

A foot interface may one day control a third arm to assist the hands with a difficult task, but the interface needs to be easy to use. Developing a good foot interface is challenging because of the need to provide support for the leg, allow the user to disengage with the interface without causing unwanted motion, and make it easy for the user to hold a set position. The addition of friction in the interface can enable the device to meet these goals without negatively affecting performance. Although teleoperation is a well explored area of research, relatively little research has been done that examines the effects of friction on the control interface. This paper presents an experiment in which two foot control interfaces are compared. One device uses friction and the other has no added friction, so there is little resistance to motion in any direction. The experiment uses a reaching task and a path-following task to compare the interfaces. The only statistically significant performance differences were that the friction interface reduced the time needed to stop at a target and reduced excess movement when stopping at a target. Also, subjects indicated a preference for the friction interface. The results show that friction can be added to a foot interface to support the device and user and provide some positive gains in performance.

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