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Journal Articles Frontiers in Computer Science Year : 2023

Obstacles shape the way we walk at home

Mélodie Sannier
Stefan Janaqi
Gérard Dray
Pierre Slangen
Benoit G. Bardy


Walking indoors, particularly at home, presents a distinct experience compared to the conventional pedestrian walking classically described. Our homes encompass intricate, confined and cluttered architectural spaces that necessitate a predominantly curvilinear walking pattern. Despite the growing interest in studying our home, spurred by successive Covid-19 lockdowns, there remains a dearth of information regarding our walking behaviors inside homes, yet rich in data on the physical and sensory links between humans and their daily interior environment. This study presents the outcomes of a controlled experiment conducted in an apartment in Montpellier, France. Participants were tasked with traversing the living room at a natural pace, encountering two natural obstaclesa large dining table and a small coffee table. They then walked back in opposite direction, circumnavigating the same two obstacles. To examine walking behavior within a pseudo-natural context, three conditions were tested: a controlled condition and two conditions that perturbed the natural curvilinear trajectory perceptually, by imposing an unpleasant sound, or physically, by suddenly displacing the coffee table between conditions. Twenty participants performed 30 trials in each condition. We approximated the position of their center of mass and computed various metrics related to their trajectories, including walking speed, obstacle clearance distance, its adaptation over time, and inter-trial trajectory variability. Findings revealed a greater visual clearance distance for the dining table compared to the coffee table, a difference reduced by the perturbation caused by displacing the coffee table. This clearing distance diminished with repetitions, showing that over time we tend to walk closer to obstacles around us. These adaptations were clearly the result of an active visuo-motor regulation, as evidenced by the reduced trajectory variability at, or just before, the location of the obstacles. Collectively, these results demonstrate that walking at home is a flexible behavior necessitating continuous perceptual adaptations in our daily trajectories. These findings could contribute to a detailed analysis of walking indoors under natural conditions, and the investigated metrics could serve as a baseline for comparing the embodiment of physical and mental health in walking patterns, for instance during lockdowns. Furthermore, our findings have consequences for safer mediated human architecture interaction.
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hal-04315850 , version 1 (07-12-2023)



Mélodie Sannier, Stefan Janaqi, Gérard Dray, Pierre Slangen, Benoit G. Bardy. Obstacles shape the way we walk at home. Frontiers in Computer Science, 2023, 5, ⟨10.3389/fcomp.2023.1270520⟩. ⟨hal-04315850⟩
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