The Problem

Wayfinding is a tricky thing: for some, it comes naturally and without a second thought. For others like myself, wayfinding is a matter of trial and error (mostly error), anxiety, and frustration. Cell phones have greatly helped people like me, but only insofar as finding a destination, not in truly understanding cardinal direction. GPS is useless indoors. The reliance on a visual display can be a deadly distraction behind the wheel.

 

Goals

 

Build Confidence

No Visual Displays

Communicate Cardinal Direction

 
 

Inspiration

Many species of bird, shark, and ant use magnetoreception to orient themselves by perceiving the Earth's magnetic poles. I realized that we can artificially perceive them by using easily sourced electronics and communicate their direction to the user with vibrating haptic feedback or LEDs.

 

How It Works

A set of eight vibration motors is worn in a circular array. A magnetometer detects magnetic north. A microcontroller takes the readings from the magnetometer and actuates whichever motor is facing closest to north. The diagram below illustrates how this works. 

The green figures show which motor is vibrating relative to north. The red figures indicate which motor is vibrating relative to the user (i.e. where the user feels the vibration).

The green figures show which motor is vibrating relative to north. The red figures indicate which motor is vibrating relative to the user (i.e. where the user feels the vibration).

 

Sketch Exploration (Paper)

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Sketch Exploration (Digital)

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