Thinking Tech

Vibrating steering wheel could help drivers navigate

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A vibrating steering wheel using haptic technology allows drivers to avoid taking their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel while using in-car navigation.

Carnegie Mellon

AT&T and Carnegie Mellon may have the next innovation in GPS technology. A vibrating steering wheel that uses haptic technology would allow drivers to reach their destination without having to take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel in order to figure out instructions from their confusing navigation system.

This haptic form of navigation is more intuitive than auditory messages, which require drivers to hear and process instructions. AT&T researcher Kevin Lee explains the benefit of this new type of sensory messages, and says that they are, "taking advantage of what people are already familiar with, making them easier to learn."

The prototype of this new wheel contains GPS technology and 20 small motors in the wheel, that move in a circular pattern to indicate a turn--clockwise for right and counter-clockwise for left. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer Interaction Institute conducted studies of found that auditory and haptic feedback kept drivers' eyes on the road better than the traditional combination of audio and visual. As carmakers attempt to make the roads safer, a GPS system that helps users keep their eyes on the road may be a logical next step.

[via Carnegie Mellon, CNN]

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Jenny Wilson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Jenny Wilson is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has written for Time.com and Swimming World Magazine and served stints at The American Prospect and The Atlantic Monthly magazines. She is currently pursuing a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure