By Andrew Liszewski
While turn-by-turn voice prompts certainly make navigating with a GPS device easier and safer while driving, they’re still not necessarily the best solution while riding a bike. Not having easy access to the navigation device, or more likely your smartphone, hinders their usability. So a team at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands has created an interesting alternative.
Instead of a voice telling you to turn here or go there, their Oh Music, Where Art Thou? app adjusts the volume and left/right mix of your music, providing auditory hints of where you should be heading. So when you should be going to the right (not necessarily just a turn) the sound in your headphones would be heavier on the right side. And as you got closer to your destination, the music would get increasingly louder. Kind of like playing hot or cold.
What’s particularly nice about the system is that you don’t need to see your smartphone’s display at any time, and you’re not really limited to a specific predefined route. On the down side though, in order for the compass to accurately detect the position and orientation of your head to adjust the music accordingly, your device pretty much needs to be strapped to your noggin. Hence the special headphones pictured above.
If you’re curious how well it works, and happen to live in Stockholm, you can download a prototype version of the app for your Android smartphone here.