Knowing where to walk, bike, or drive seems to come naturally to some people. Others — whether due to visual impairment, or simply because of being unfamiliar with an area — often have a hard time figuring out where to go. While these are something of two different challenges, the Ariadne Headband — a reference to a Greek legend about navigating a labyrinth — by Vojtech Pavlovsky and Tomas Kosicek aims to address both.
The wearable device uses an array of four vibrating motors arranged around the user’s head, which vibrate to indicate the correct direction of travel. This type of reminder could be useful in a macro sense — turn at this intersection — or in a more active role to keep one traveling in a straight line.
Hardware-wise, this Ariadne features an Arduino Nano for control, plus transistors to drive the motors. A Bluetooth module links up to a smartphone app, which enables the user to input the desired destination. Importantly, a compass module onboard the headband assembly, along with the phone’s GPS, tells where the user is facing, allowing the correct motor or combination of motors to be turned on.
As of now, the Ariadne Headband is a bulky, but functional prototype. Future iterations could be miniaturized to the point that it could be embedded in a hat, helmet, or perhaps even a sweatband, meaning haptic navigation that can be used without interfering with other tasks.