I can’t claim to be the first person to remark that a good way to tell when cycling is “normal” is when cyclists are wearing “normal clothing”. Here’s a way to have navigation when you are cycling – or walking – in your non-lycra normal clothing and don’t want to have a dedicated device such as a Garmin on your handle bars or in your hand.
An Italian company has designed some belts which incorporate a navigation system, usable with each type of transport, that will take you wherever you want without having to stop and consult a map.
Ubivade is a vibro-tactile navigation belt that transmits information to the user by means of sixteen vibrating motors. The type of vibration and where it happens on the belt tells the user the direction to head in without the distraction of visual or audio cues.
“The 16 vibrators make for a more pleasurable travel experience.”
Ubivade’s app lets you choose between pedestrian, bike, motorbike, bus, and car settings. The guide signals are automatically adjusted according to travel mode, changing the vibration intensity and the indication distance before turns.
Ubivade finds the quickest and safest route to make your trip a stress-free experience. Enter your destination and means of transport on the app, tuck your phone safely into your pocket and Ubivade will do the rest, giving you turn-by-turn navigation signals, taking you to your destination with its vibro-tactile signals.
Can we expand the human senses?
This project was inspired by a very important scientific concept called “Umwelt” (the German word for Environment or Surroundings, but used in this project to mean “human-centric world”) and veered into its final goal; the expansion of reality perceived by humans.
Imagine Umwelt as an enormous sphere that surrounds our body, as large as our five senses will allow it to be and capable of filtering and distorting our vision of the world, its result is different for every individual.
The bigger the sphere, the bigger the dimensions of our world and our ability to interact with it.
Marco Zagaria, CEO of Ubivade, explains “our goal is to expand human sensorial perception using modern technology to enlarge the dimensions of our perceived world. We use GPS technology to calculate your route and the direction signals are sent to the body through a structure composed of sixteen vibration motors, that give vibro-tactile feedback which is easily understood by the brain.
In the beginning, this exchange of data is interpreted by our rational brain, which will associate a specific answer to each urge. After a short training period, this mechanism becomes internalized and automated, and is moved to our unconscious mind so we never have to think about it. Our bodies react automatically. With Ubivade you just have to enter your destination and let your body follow the route, while you can relax and even hold a conversation.”
How it works
Ubivade sends navigation information through its sixteen vibration motors located on the belt: depending on the upcoming turn, the four groups of motors, divided into right, left, straight and wrong-way, vibrate to guide you to your destination.
To recharge the battery, you just have to connect Ubivade to a USB socket and a green led will tell you when it’s fully charged. The system is compatible both with iOS and with Android.
Suitable for all types of journeys
Ubivadeis ideal for those who love travelling, offering a stress-free experience and free hands. In some areas, it could also be safer for pedestrians to have this discreet form of navigation rather than having to glance at a handheld device, which automatically highlights you as a tourist. When you select the walking mode, the belt automatically reduces the vibration power and tells you to turn fifty metres ahead of time. If the trip is too far to walk there are also bus maps included in the app. Ubivade tells you which stop to get off at by vibrating as you approach the stop.
Poor screen visibility in bright light conditions will no longer be a problem, keeping the smartphone in your pocket and receiving tactile-feedback, distractions will be reduced to a minimum, and power consumption too.
There’s another safety advantage for cyclists in a busy urban environment as you can stay focused on the road and traffic around you, rather than having to look down for direction instructions.
Ubivade is made by Italian craftsmen, where design and innovation merge with tradition. You can combine your chosen colour – blue, brown or black – with your desired clasp, available in two models, Classic and Sport, which are also available in two colours: metallized and matte black. The Ubivade navigation belt is unisex, is currently on Kickstarter and will be offered in a variety of styles to match both casual and formal outfits.
Marco also indicated that his company is planning the development of a navigation system for blind people, integrating an “assistant” mode into their app that gives more frequent tactile-feedback and a voice-activated configuration.
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