Saturday, March 31, 2012

AT&T steering wheel gives good vibrations

AT&T Labs has come up with a vibrating steering wheel that will deliver tactile cues for navigation information. The wheel prototype features a clockwise pattern of vibrations to mean turn right, counter-clockwise to mean turn left. The wheel uses 20 actuators that can fire off in any pattern.

The wheel’s haptics, a branch of psychology that investigates cutaneous sensory data, are focussed on delivery of navigation instructions, but other applications are under development, such as notification when another vehicle appears in a driver’s blind spot.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found it helped keep drivers’ eyes on the road longer. Younger drivers (average age, 25) who used the wheel along with the usual visual and auditory method of receiving nav instructions had decreased inattentiveness (the proportion of their time that their eyes were off the road) by 3.1%. The same study failed to note any improvement in older drivers. A different study found a 4% drop in inattentiveness in older drivers (over age 65) when the haptic signals were added to auditory instructions.

An earlier study on in-vehicle haptics found that drivers made fewer turning errors than with just auditory cues.

AT&T researcher Kevin Li said it would be years before the gadget gets into real cars.


News Update Users