In collaboration with Audrey Haque and Anahide Nahhal

Master in Design Engineering Collaborative Design Engineering Studio I

Harvard University

Oct 2018 - Nov 2018

haptic navigation

The world today is becoming more complex, and the devices are becoming more inclusive of different features at the expense of a higher price. Your smartphone can technically do everything you want a machine to do. But by having all those features grouped within one interface, a compromise is made on some aspects to fit a maximum of function.

creating a more intuitive, affordable and safe navigation device

02-01.png

PROBLEM

Typical mobile navigation assistance relies too much on visual and auditory cues often distracting bikers and pedestrians from safely and efficiently getting from point A to point B.

PROCESS

We decided to get out of that complexity and to extract the main feature we wanted to work on and design specifically for that one purpose making as instinctive as it can get to make it answer our needs in a more efficient and precise way. In order to achieve this goal, we studied in depth the optimal area of intervention, and created a very intuitive haptic communication language.

SOLUTION

We believe that by designing a haptic device with a simple communication language, we can create a more intuitive, affordable and safer navigation experience.​

THE USER JOURNEY OF A BIKER

A first essential step in the design process was to understand our user and try to empathize with the pain points of his journey. We conducted interviews with bikers and observed the actions he undertakes from the moment he looks for the bike until he arrives. We noticed that the navigation part of the journey was the one where the user faces the most problems and we have decided to focus mostly on the pain points highlighted below in pink.

REACTION TIMES FOR TOUCH, SOUND AND SIGHT

When studying the reaction times for the different sensory triggers, we noticed that vibrations stimulation have the fastest response times. This is why we decided to work with haptics.

TWO POINT DISCRIMINATION ACROSS THE BODY

We then decided to understand the sensitivity of the body to touch in order to intervene in the right area. The two point discrimination technique consists of applying pressure on two points on a small area of skin and move them as close as possible until the patient cannot discern the two points anymore. The smaller the distance between the points, the more sensitive the skin in that area is.

TACTILE SENSORY INNERVATION OF THE HAND

After determining that the hand would be the optimal part of the body, we dived deeper in the sensitivity of the different areas of the hand looking at the receptive field size, the adaptation speed, the sensitivity to skin deformation whether high frequency or low, as well as the sensitivity to static force.

DETERMINING THE AREA OF INTERVENTION I -BASED ON INNERVATION

The pacini endings seemed to be the most sensitive to a high frequency vibration. Further more, the large receptive field size lowered the chances of not targeting the exact location of the nerves. Overlaying this area with the part of the hand that would not be in contact with the handle of the bike (dissipating the vibration) helped us determine the optimal area of intervention.

DETERMINING THE AREA OF INTERVENTION II - OVERLAYING IT WITH CONTEXT

A HAPTIC NAVIGATION DEVICE WITH AN INTUITIVE AND SIMPLE COMMUNICATION LANGUAGE

COMPONENTS DIAGRAM - ENCASING OF COMPONENTS

We worked with arduino to build the physical prototype that consisted of a feather board with bluetooth connection, a battery, and a vibe motor. The electrical components (board and battery) are encased in a transparent vaccum formed shell (out of an initial 3d printed shape) that is sealed and allows for a charging port to enter to charge the battery. The vibe is encased in a 3d printed support. This system is entered in both gloves and can be controlled by a phone prior to departure setting the trajectory and then notifying the driver of the directions to take along the way.

NEW COMMUNICATION LANGUAGE

As for the intuitive language, we studied the different intersections and notifications that we would have to send to the user and tested it on a few people in order to make it as intuitive as possible. By having two gloves, the user receives simple notifications through the vibrations.

PROJECTED IMPACT ON BIKERS

FURTHER APPLICATIONS

REFERENCES

Peon, A.R., & Prattichizzo, D. (2013). Reaction times to constraint violation in haptics: comparing vibration, visual and audio stimuli. 2013 World Haptics Conference (WHC), 657-661 

https://dundeemedstudentnotes.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/2-point-discrimination-vibration-and-temperature-sensation/

https://www-nature-com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/articles/nrn2621/tables/1 

Felix Richter, (2014), Watch Out for Smartphone Users [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www-statista-com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/chart/1744/watch-out-for-smartphone-users/ [Accessed 2 November 2018].

Wolfe, E. S., Arabian, S. S., Breeze, J. L., & Salzler, M. J. (2016). Distracted Biking: An Observational Study. Journal of trauma nursing : the official journal of the Society of Trauma Nurses, 23(2), 65-70.

 

and other primary research through interviews