An interesting one from the One Per Cent blog on our sister site, New Scientist…
Anyone who has ever tried to use GPS navigation while cycling knows it can be somewhat lacking in comparison to driving a car, as it’s impossible to keep your eyes on the road and on the screen at the same time.
That’s why a team of researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have come up with an alternative sound-based approach to finding your way around.
Matthijs Zwinderman and colleagues have developed a smartphone app called Oh Music, Where Are Thou? that uses music played through headphones to guide cyclists to their destination. The music pans around depending on which way the cyclist is heading and always appears to come from the direction they want to head in and gets louder as they get nearer.
Neat idea – but isn’t cycling while listening to music dangerous? “People already wear headphones and hold their phone out in front of them,” says Zwinderman, who points out that his app would at least ensure cyclists have their hands and eyes free. He also says it could be used with headphones that have external microphones, passing the external sound through to the cyclist while overlaying the music.
Special headphones would also help with another issue – the app currently works best when the phone is strapped to the cyclist’s head, as this is the only way to ensure an accurate reading from the compass sensor. Zwinderman suggests headphones with a built-in compass might be the way forward.
If you have an Android phone you can download the app and try it out for yourself, but destinations are limited to the sights around Stockholm, Sweden, where Zwinderman is currently presenting his work at the Mobile HCI conference.
Jacob Aron, New Scientist