July 30, 2014

PocketNavigator: Tactile Pedestrian Navigation

As many of you are beginning to find out, there are scores of turn-by-turn driving apps for Android handsets.  Everyone has their own preferences, be it TeleNav, waze, CoPilot, or another.  But what about those of us who spend their days walking to and from our destinations? Google Maps offers pedestrian routes and there are those apps that take advantage of this.   The biggest problem with these apps designed for walking is that they pretty much require you to constantly be looking at your phone. Wouldn’t it be nice to throw your Droid into your pocket and still know which way to turn?

Researchers from the OFFIS - Institute for Information Technology have put together an Android app that uses tactile feedback to help pedestrians find their way.   Called PocketNavigator, is uses different rhythms and durations to tell users when it’s time to turn left or right.  All without the need to remove your phone from the pocket.  The premise seems simple enough: If the first pulse is longer than the second one, the user has to turn left a bit. Accordingly, if the right pulse, is longer the user has to turn right. If both pulses have the same length, keep going straight.

Scan to download PocketNavigator

Starting immediately, you can download PocketNavigator from the Android Market for free. Be advised, this only works on handsets running Android 1.6 and above.  For convenience, you can scan the barcode to the left of this paragraph.