If you hate having your face stuck in your phone looking at directions, or you just fancy a new look, students at Cornell University may have just made your day. The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering final year projects featured a GPS-enabled top hat that uses directional sound to tell you where to go.
The use of sound is the most interesting aspect of this project (other than the choice of hat, of course). Directional sound means that the voice calling out your directions sounds like it’s coming from the direction you need to go in.
That means if you need to go back the way you came, the voice will appear to be coming from behind you.
This is done by utilizing sound localization, which is how your brain works out where a noise originated. It also monitors your head’s orientation, as well as the GPS coordinates of where you’re going and coming from.
The hat is wired with two-channel stereo headphones that feed you directions in a timely manner so you know when to cross the road or watch out for a turn.
Admittedly, this isn’t the most practical device, but it’s certainly clever in its use of directional sound. It’s a method that would be well put to use in Google Maps or as an aid for people with disabilities. It will be interesting to see what grows out of this project.