Passive assistive devices that compensate gravity can reduce human effort during transportation of heavy objects. The additional reduction of inertial forces, which are still present during deceleration when using gravity compensation, could further increase movement performance in terms of accuracy and duration. This study investigated whether position dependent damping forces (PDD) around targets could assist during planar reaching movements. The PDD damping coefficient value increased linearly from 0 Ns/m to 200 Ns/m over 18 cm (long PDD) or 9 cm (short PDD). Movement performance of reaching with both PDDs was compared against damping free baseline conditions and against constant damping (40 Ns/m). Using a Fitts' like experiment design 18 subjects performed a series of reaching movements with index of difficulty: 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5 bits, and distances 18, 23 and 28 cm for all conditions. Results show that PDD reduced (compared to baseline and constant damping) movement times by more than 30% and reduced the number of target reentries, i.e. increasing reaching accuracy, by a factor of 4. Results were inconclusive about whether the long or short PDD conditions achieved better task performance, although mean human acceleration forces were higher for the short PDD, hinting at marginally faster movements. Overall, PDD is a useful haptic force to get humans to decrease their reaching movement times while increasing their targeting accuracy.
|Publication status||Published - 26 Jun 2016|