A car navigation system that displays turn-by-turn instructions using a vibro-tactile waist belt aims to avoid the cognitive load that most car navigation systems place on drivers.
Navigation systems have become standard equipment in cars currently on the market. Drivers are becoming accustomed to the electronic map-based route guidance support and the friendly voice announcing the next turn. However, the number and complexity of assistance systems for driving, navigation, infotainment, and entertainment continually increase. Most require the driver to interact or at least perceive the presented information and they therefore increase stress. From a safety and convenience perspective, user interfaces in cars must not introduce more cognitive effort to the driver. One option is to exploit "free" sensory channels, beyond visual and auditory presentations. This article presents a car navigation system that gives turn-by-turn instructions using a vibro-tactile waist belt. The authors investigated different tactile parameters such as intensity, duration, and rhythm, and designed information presentations for different types of crossings along the route. Evaluations in an urban environment compared the tactile design with existing car navigation systems that apply visual and auditory output. Results show that it is possible to navigate through an urban area using purely tactile information.