Tactile pavement for guiding walking direction: An assessment of heading direction and gait stability

Nanda Pluijter, Lieke P.W. de Wit, Sjoerd M. Bruijn, Myrthe A. Plaisier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


For maintaining heading direction while walking we heavily rely on vision. Therefore, walking in the absence of vision or with visual attention directed elsewhere potentially leads to dangerous situations. Here we investigated whether tactile information from the feet can be used as a (partial) substitute for vision in maintaining a stable heading direction. If so, participants should be better able to keep a constant heading direction on tactile pavement that indicates directionality than on regular flat pavement. However, such a pavement may also be destabilizing. Thus we asked participants to walk straight ahead on regular pavement, and on tactile pavement (tiles with ridges along the walking direction) while varying the amount of vision. We assessed the effects of the type of pavement as well as the amount of vision on the variability of the heading direction as well as gait stability. Both of these measures were calculated from accelerations and angular velocities recorded from a smartphone attached to the participants trunk. Results showed that on tactile pavement participants had a less variations in their heading direction than on regular pavement. The drawback, however, was that the tactile pavement used in this study decreased gait stability. In sum, tactile pavement can be used as a partial substitute for vision in maintaining heading direction, but it can also decrease gait stability. Future work should focus on designing tactile pavement that does provided directional clues, but is less destabilizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-538
Number of pages5
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Acceleration
  • Attention
  • Environment Design
  • Female
  • Foot/physiology
  • Gait/physiology
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postural Balance
  • Touch Perception
  • Vision, Ocular/physiology
  • Walking/physiology
  • Young Adult


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