Finding Your Way in a Roundabout Way, with New Phone Technology; NAVIGATION TOOL CREATED IN WALES LETS PEOPLE EXPLORE
Byline: ROBIN TURNER
NAVIGATION systems on smart phones for pedestrians have changed the way we explore new cities and locations on foot.
But staring down at a view screen and only plodding the "maximum efficiency" route to your destination can also take away the fun of exploring new towns and cities.
Now scientists at Swansea University's Future Interaction Technologies (FIT) Lab have developed a programme which encourages the "exploration route" - with a vibration from the phone in your pocket telling you if you are on the right track or not.
Simon Robinson of Swansea University's Computer Sciences Department has helped come up with the novel system which gives the user feedback on the general direction to take to reach a geographical target.
But it leaves the precise route open to choice and the phone simply vibrates when it is pointing towards the target destination.
Research officer Mr Robinson developed the programme in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Glasgow and Nokia Devices.
He said: "Turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation is now widely available in mobile devices.
"However, we believe these increasingly-ubiquitous mobile systems can often take the pleasure out of exploring a place, especially when people have to listen for instructions or look at a screen rather than at their surroundings.
"In this project, we created a simpler method for pedestrian navigation.
"When using our prototypes, all the user has to do is hold their phone in their hand.
"In the simplest system, when they point the phone toward their destination it vibrates and when they point the wrong way it stops vibrating.
"No turn-by-turn information is given, though - the phone vibrates when pointing in the direction of the final target, rather than any intermediate way points."
He added: "The aim of this research is to remove the division of attention between a navigation device and the real world it describes.
"People are guided in the general direction of their destination through this vibration, but we also adjust the feedback dynamically so that they are able to sense whether alternative routes are available, leaving them free to choose their precise journey. …