Good vibrations . .
A vibrating belt to help guide cyclists - a satnav for the waist - has proved successful in early tests.
The 'Vibrobelt' uses vibrating actuators that indicate left, right, backward and forward turn directions, and give coded buzzes indicating distance to destination.
The system gives cyclists a 'heads-up' navigator, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road, having chosen their destination on a GPS smartphone. After setting off, they receive directional nudges from the vibrators just before each turn.
To compare the vibrotactile system with a standard GPS map on a handlebar-mounted smartphone, 20 cyclists tried both methods on unfamiliar routes. Whilst all reached their destination, researchers noted an important difference - when questioned about landmarks they had passed, Vibrobelt users proved much more aware of their surroundings en-route than those who were constantly glancing at a GPS screen.
The researchers believe this to be a key observation, as concerns mount over the death toll among cyclists.
Vibrobelt was developed as a masters project within the Intelligent Systems Lab at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The results will be presented at the annual Intelligent User Interfaces conference in Santa Monica, California, in March.
Details from the New Scientist below . .