Jan Walter Schroeder, Ulrich Straus, Rashid Bakirov, Manuel Martin-Salvador

Sensovo is working on the world’s first tactile navigation system that is both wearable and commercially available. Our preliminary operational prototype utilises a smartphone as a medium to run a navigation application that allows the user to specify destinations based on the mobile phone’s internal GPS receiver. The app communicates via Bluetooth with our wearable accessory, a waist belt that is equipped with eight vibration motors placed at equal distance from each other. The belt provides tactile navigation by vibrating one or more motors in the target direction. The vibration intensity and duration changes according to the distance to the next destination point. Through sensory substitution, the human brain has the ability to incorporate this additional tactile information, which makes the device a “sixth sense” for the wearer. Many people can benefit from this innovative way of navigation, such as tourists, geocachers, emergency services, cyclists, motorcyclists, and the visually impaired. The product is a technical intersection of geolocation (GNSS), navigation, wearable technologies, mobile phone accessories, sensory enhancement, tactile feedback, and ubiquitous computing.