Last March, the performing arts group Extant held a unique rendition of the novel Flatland. The installation was set in complete darkness inside a disused church. But the audience members were able to make their way around the set with the help of the Animotus, a haptic navigation device that points to the destination by changing its shape.
Yale University researcher Adam Spiers designed and built the Animotus. The cube’s upper half rotates to point to a direction, and extends forward to give you an idea of how far you need to go in that direction. This allowed Flatland’s viewers to move in the right direction even in complete darkness.
Aside from having the potential to aid the visually impaired, Adam thinks even sighted people might find Animotus useful. It’s less disruptive than looking at a map or listening to directions, and Adam thinks that could encourage sightseers to appreciate their surroundings even more. I think it’s too simplistic for long-distance navigation or even to find your way in winding streets, but I get where Adam is coming from.