Haptic Compass App

@McSTUFF came up with the concept of using a phone as a haptic compass in another thread, so I figured I'd attempt to write such an app for apple device, specifically iPhones. I'd welcome any input on features, quirks, and other such things. My Thoughts so far:
- Vibration/Audio based Navigation
- Compass Mode: Using GPS or built-in compass sensor. The closer you get to north, the less it vibrates/the quieter the tone
- GPS target Mode: Using GPS. Like Compass mode, but with navigation points/destination acting as "north"
- Direction Mode: Acquires a set of points to navigate the user to either from the web, or from user-input instructions.
Should it be a continuous vibration, becoming more/less intense? Or pulses, which in increase in frequency up to continuous vibration?


  • I would like to see two modes for the audio output. The first would be a sine wave of audible frequencies below 5Khz and this would indicate orientation the way you think.
    The second mode would be a square wave below 100Hz. The idea is this could be externally amplified and felt with a magnetic implant similar to the Bottlenose. The "invisible headphones" would have enough power to be felt. With no special build you would have a cyborg peripheral.

    To answer your question I think it would be easier to program the vibrator to go in timed pulses rather than trying to change intensity. From what little I know of mobile programming the software development kits don't like to use analog values on the vibrator. You could program a PWM but that's your call.
  • The only problem I see with using a frequency below 100 Hz is that the frequency response on a phone speaker is probably suckish in that band. I do like the idea of incorporating the invisible headphones, though. And square waves, because you usually don't encounter proper square waves in your everyday environment?
  • Yes, the < 100Hz frequencies would not be meant as audio but rather as a signal to drive the invisible headphones so it could be felt by a finger magnet. I don't remember the exact range where finger magnets are most sensitive but it's nowhere near our ears' range. Square waves should be easier to feel since they escalate instantly rather than build and decay like a sine wave but I could be mistaken here. Square waves are also easier to build into an Arduino or SSR in case someone wants to put a really serious coil on this.
  • sensory compass on android play appears to be working already. it vibrates almost constantly, vibrating on stronger pulse at north and more intermittent on east/west. 

    haven't test battery drain yet. may well use on a separate phone
  • I'll have to look into that, though I have no android devices.
  • edited April 2015
    I gave it a shot. Not impressed. It would only run if the phone was activated, so you cant really put it in your pocket because either the home/back button would get bumped or the power button would depress. I walked for a while holding it in my hands and it did kind of work, but it isnt something that's useable in any real sort of way. 

    However, the settings of the vibrations seemed intuitive, solid for north, pulse for east/west and quick pulse for south. The vibrations would only trigger when you were within ~10 degrees of the direction. 

    What do you guys think of using a personal tracker? I know some devices in the fitbit/Jawbone class have both vibration units and compasses. Just a question of finding one with an open API and all the necessary components. 

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