Navigation technologies have become an essential part of our day to day lives. They give us the confidence to travel hundreds of miles without the need to stop and ask for directions.
However, most navigation technologies of today use audio and/or visual feedback to tell us where we need to go. While extremely valuable, these feedback’s still cause a lot of distractions, which leads to a lot of accidents on a daily basis.
In order to reduce those distractions, Adam J. Spiers, from Yale University, has developed a new type of navigation device which uses an old type of navigation technique to guide us to our destination.
This new device is called the Haptic Taco, and is based on the age old game of Hotter/Colder that kids used to play in the pre-internet era. The device emulates that game by changing it’s volume (size) to indicate whether you are going in the right direction or not.
The technique of use is as simple as the concept itself. You just have to connect the device to your smartphone navigation app. As you start moving, the cube will expand and contract in your hand to indicate if you are going farther or nearer to your destination, respectively.
Since the device gives you immediate physical feedback, you don’t feel the need to look down at your phone or strain your ears for directions. It plays into your intuition, letting feel your way to where you want to go.
This three dimensional feedback is not exactly the same as usual Haptic Feedback Systems, which rely more of vibrations rather than shape change. However, Adam felt that the buzzing would become more of a nuisance in the long run, while this method was more organic in it’s approach.
To test the possibilities of this technology, the research team is also developing other devices of different shapes and sizes in addition to the Haptic Taco, in order to see which is the most useful.
Once they finalize the designs, the next step would be developing a production grade prototype which could one day be used by regular people all over the world, thereby ushering in a new era of touch based navigation.