TIKL: Tangible Interaction for Kinesthetic Learning


TIKL is a robotic wearable suit that analyzes a target movement (e.g., performed by the teacher) and applies real-time corrective vibrotactile feedback to the student’s body, simultaneously over multiple joints. This tactile feedback can supplement the visual or auditory feedback from the teacher. After a period of acclimation, the student can utilize this information to more quickly and deeply learn new motor skills. We call this system as TIKL: Tactile Interaction for Kinesthetic Learning. This research is intended for use in a diverse set of applications including sports training, motor rehabilitation after neurological damage, dance, postural retraining for health, and many others.

The motor learning feedback system consists of four modules. First, the teacher performs a movement that the student tries to mimic. Their performance is currently tracked optically by a Vicon optical motion capture system. Results from tracking are fed into our software that compares the performance of the student and teacher to generate feedback commands for the student. These feedback signals are then sent to the wearable vibrotactile feedback suit, worn by the student. Joints moving in error will receive vibrations proportional to the amount of error (for both flexion and rotational joints). Wherever the student’s body is different than the teacher’s, direct tactile feedback indicates the discrepancy to those specific joints. Zero feedback indicates that the student’s body is in the correct configuration over time.

We have found that the addition of tactile feedback to motor training induces a statistically highly significant change in performance. It lowers real-time errors by up to 27%; learning rate is improved by up to 23%; and steady-state learning errors, the measure of performance over time, are improved by up to 27%. Given our experimental setup we hypothesize that in more complex tests, improvements will increase. Subjects with feedback showed higher level of attention, correcting their motions at times when those without feedback stood idle. Importantly, this all occurred while users felt there was no significant loss of comfort through the addition of the wearable.


TIKL: Robotic Clothing for Tactile and Kinesthetic Learning