CHI '24: Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

ErgoPulse: Electrifying Your Lower Body With Biomechanical Simulation-based Electrical Muscle Stimulation Haptic System in Virtual Reality

Seokhyun Hwang, Jeongseok Oh, Seongjun Kang, Minwoo Seong, Ahmed Elsharkawy, Seung Jun Kim

Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Gwangju, Republic of Korea


Virtual Reality, Haptic, Electrical Muscle Stimulation, Biomechanics, Simulation, Wearable Device


This study presents ErgoPulse, a system that integrates biomechanical simulation with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to provide kinesthetic force feedback to the lower-body in virtual reality (VR). ErgoPulse features two main parts: a biomechanical simulation part that calculates the lower-body joint torques to replicate forces from VR environments, and an EMS part that translates torques into muscle stimulations. In the first experiment, we assessed users’ ability to discern haptic force intensity and direction, and observed variations in perceived resolution based on force direction. The second experiment evaluated ErgoPulse’s ability to increase haptic force accuracy and user presence in both continuous and impulse force VR game environments. The experimental results showed that ErgoPulse’s biomechanical simulation increased the accuracy of force delivery compared to traditional EMS, enhancing the overall user presence. Furthermore, the interviews proposed improvements to the haptic experience by integrating additional stimuli such as temperature, skin stretch, and impact.

Moticon's Summary

This paper introduces ErgoPulse, a system combining biomechanical simulation and electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to deliver realistic lower-body haptic feedback in virtual reality (VR). The research addresses the need for haptic feedback in the lower body, vital for activities like walking and running. ErgoPulse calculates joint torques using the OpenSim and Nvidia PhysX engines based on plantar pressure data collected with Moticon sensor insoles and IMU based motion capture data. EMS is subsequently applied based on these calculations to create force feedback. Two experiments were conducted: one to determine users' ability to distinguish force intensity and direction, and another to evaluate the system's impact on user immersion in VR games. Results showed ErgoPulse significantly improved the accuracy of haptic feedback and enhanced user immersion compared to traditional EMS methods. User feedback highlighted the effectiveness of the system, though areas for improvement, such as adding temperature and tactile stimuli, were noted.

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