DORNELL – Inria Challenge

While technology helps people to compensate for a broad set of mobility impairments, visual perception and/or cognitive deficiencies still significantly affect their ability to move safely and easily. DORNELL proposes an innovative multisensory, multimodal, smart haptic handle that can be easily plugged onto a wide range of mobility aids. Specifically fabricated to fit the needs of a person, it provides a wide set of ungrounded tactile sensations in a portable and plug-and-play format – bringing haptics in assistive technologies all at once. The project addresses important scientific and technological challenges, including the study of multisensory perception, the use of new materials for multimodal haptic feedback, and the development of a haptic rendering API to adapt the feedback to different assistive scenarios and user’s wishes. DORNELL is co-designed with users and therapists, driving our development by their expectations and needs.

DORNELL is an original haptic handle system for assistive scenarios.
It will adaptively provide the user with a set of rich tactile sensations, such as skin stretch, pressure, thermal, and vibrations, as well as retrieve information about the surrounding environment and how the user interacts with it, such as the pressure applied, distance from obstacles, its orientation and acceleration. The handle addresses an important need for assistive technologies: providing rich navigation information in an unobtrusive, inexpensive, natural, and easy-to-use way. Indeed, the handle will be wireless and plug-and-play compatible with many mobility aids, such as power wheelchairs, white canes, and walkers, enabling our project to address at the same time a wide range of disabilities.


(a) white cane (b) precane (c) power wheelchair (d) walker

Figure 1: Four envisaged applications for the proposed handle (shown in red): white cane, precane, power wheelchair, and walker. DORNELL will provide multiple haptic sensations to convey feedback about the surrounding environment, e.g., path to follow, presence of obstacles, retrieving information from internal and external sensors, e.g., ultrasonic sensors mounted on a power wheelchair. Its functions will be easy to customize for each person and diverse mobility aid solutions.

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