Walking: Harder Than It Looks

Perhaps the Los Angeles car culture is protecting us from dangerous walking mishaps.  Walking ain’t all that easy, according to a new study from the Journal of Physiology:

“We have demonstrated that vision can be used in an online fashion to fine-tune foot placement during a step,” said Raymond Reynolds, of the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London.  “It was previously thought that vision was used to plan the step in advance but not necessarily monitor its ongoing progress.”

Reynolds and colleagues looked at how well people placed their feet onto a target in the process of walking. In half of their tests, they blocked off the subjects’ vision as they were lifting their feet off of the ground. This caused them problems in placing their foot accurately on the target. When vision was restored, foot placement was once again on the mark.

This must be why I’ve had my worst spills since I started to wear bifocals.

Asimo running.jpgThe study has a serious purpose.  The scientists hope the information eventually will help people with neurological disorders avoid falls.

I imagine, too, that Honda will be interested in these results for its ASIMO project to develop a humanoid robot that “possesses both intelligence and physical capabilities at a high level.”


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