Biomechanical and Physiological Validation of the Omni-Directional Treadmill Upgrade as a Mobility Platform for Immersive Environments

Report No. ARL-TR-5510
Authors: Angela C. Boynton; Kathy L. Kehring; Timothy L. White
Date/Pages: April 2011; 38 pages
Abstract: A novel mobility platform, the Omni-Directional Treadmill (ODT) Upgrade, has been developed to allow users to move through a virtual environment in a manner equivalent to doing so in the real world. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the extent to which walking on the ODT Upgrade is comparable to walking overground for selected biomechanical and physiological variables. Temporal-spatial parameters, sagittal plane joint kinematics, and metabolic cost were assessed for 10 subjects as they walked along identical circular courses overground and on the ODT Upgrade. Except for a reduction in ankle plantarflexion following toe-off on the ODT Upgrade, differences in gait mechanics between the overground and ODT Upgrade trials were relatively small. However, oxygen consumption was more than 20% greater during walking on the ODT Upgrade than overground, and must be taken into account when comparing the results of training and research conducted on the ODT Upgrade to that of the real world. Future studies are required to develop a better understanding of the potential mechanisms behind this substantial increase in metabolic cost. In conclusion, the ODT Upgrade permits users to walk through a virtual environment in a relatively natural way, but with a significant increase in physiological demand.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: April 1, 2011