Augmenting Virtual Reality Terrain Display with Smart Shoe Physical Rendering: A Pilot Study

Yue Wang, Takara E. Truong, Samuel W. Chesebrough, Pete Willemsen, K. Bo Foreman, Andrew S. Merryweather, John M. Hollerbach, Mark A. Minor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Haptic terrain rendering is limited in existing Virtual Reality (VR) systems. This article describes integration of the Smart Shoe (SS) for physical terrain display with the TreadPort VR system. The SS renders both gross sloped terrain and subtle sensations of stepping on small objects or uneven surfaces. The TreadPort projects terrain on the floor and the SS renders terrain that the user steps upon via motion tracking. The research is motivated towards eventually providing gait training for people with Parkinson's Disease (PD), hence this work presents a pilot study evaluating haptic terrain rendering with healthy elderly and PD participants wearing the SS within the TreadPort. Uneven cobblestone surfaces are rendered by the SS as the participant steps on their graphical representation in VR. While posthoc analysis shows the study is underpowered, kinematic and spatiotemporal results derived from motion capture data demonstrates kinesthetic response (e.g., increased maximum ankle angle and minimum toe clearance, reduced minimum ankle angle and knee angle) provided by the SS. Questionnaire data shows increased VR realism and difficulty walking on cobbled terrain using SS rendering. Thus, results indicate that the integrated haptic system demonstrates promise in potential gait training for PD in future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9234444
Pages (from-to)174-187
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant 1162617. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The authors would also like to thank the many students not included in the author list that have helped develop the TreadPort system and conduct subject studies over the years of this project. They would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the reviewers and AE who have helped us to improve the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2008-2011 IEEE.


  • Haptics
  • gait training
  • terrain display
  • virtual reality

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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