As light as your footsteps: altering walking sounds to change perceived body weight, emotional state and gait

Jimenez A Tajadura, M Basia, O Deroy, M Fairhurst, Nicolai Marquardt, N Bianchi-Berthouze
in ACM CHI 2015, Conference proceeding


An ever more sedentary lifestyle is a serious problem in our society today. Enhancing people's exercise adherence through technology remains an important research challenge. We propose a novel approach for a system supporting walking activity that draws from basic findings in neu-roscience research. Our shoe-based prototype senses a per-son's footsteps and alters in real-time the frequency spectra of the sound they produce while walking. The resulting sounds are consistent with those produced by either a light-er or heavier body. This approach alters the perception of one's body by manipulating the self-produced walking sounds thereby enhancing self-efficacy, self-esteem and gait. A user study confirms that modified walking sounds change one's own perceived body weight and enhance the motivation for physical activity, self-efficacy and gait pat-terns. We discuss our findings in terms of HCI applications and questions opened by this research.