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When we think of navigational systems, surely the first thing that comes to mind would be staring at a map, trying to figure out the route on the map as the system tells you to go straight even if there is a bend in the road. Some alternate navigational systems have been developed, but none shows as much promise as the HAPMAP that aims to keep the human’s eye away from the map, and focused on what is in front of them.

The navigation system, shown recently at SIGGRAPH‘s E-tech event, works by using a handheld device that is capable of both navigating and vibrating, sending you complex navigation cues that follow the curvature of the road or path. It gives much more detail that the usual “go straight”, that can potentially make you walk into telephone poles, or drive off a cliff, if you’re not too careful.

View the introduction video to HAPMAP here.

The device provides haptic feedback that mimics sliding handrails, and could be particularly useful for the visually impared. This system can help them sucessfully navigate winding paths, because not only does it provide right and left-turn navigation cues, it is also able to provide subtle cues for a winding route.

With motion capture cameras, the haptic feedback is controlled automatically in real-time, that enables you to navigate on the go. The HAPMAP is designed as a small, easy-to-use device and I certainly want one in my pocket when it gets released.

I’ve always felt it funny how conventional navigation systems never account for small details and only gives you the big picture. I certainly find it funny that it would tell you to go straight on a winding road, but perhaps the HAPMAP can change the way we navigate for the better. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing if the device will take on.