A speculative tactile navigation concept for people with visual impairment.
Navigating a foreign city is challenging. Modern map applications have reduced this struggle. For the visually impaired, routing functions and voice output make simple navigation from point A to B possible.
This however, does not convey the vast amount of information that sighted people gain while using digital maps.
The concept is based on inFORM, a research project at the MIT Media Lab. The team developed a dynamic shape display comprised of individual pins adjustable in height, which can render 3D content physically.
Detact speculatively projects this tactile display technology into the future und places it in a context of use. We hypothesize that the resolution (density) of pins will increase tremendously in the future and could be implemented into a portable device.
We tested our project with a small group of visually impaired individuals and received a lot of positive feedback. All participants confirmed that Detact would be helpful in their daily lives and expressed a desire to see the project realised in the future.
Almost all information was clearly distinguishable and learned surprisingly quickly by experienced testers who had been blind for a longer period.
All the map information that is not conveyed via voice output in navigation apps can be provided with the shape-changing display. Any type of information such as the user’s position, streets and points of interest would be haptic.
Unlike analog tactile maps, Detact could be used flexibly in any location, with different scales and levels of information. This could make it easier for people with visual impairment to actively explore and comprehend their surroundings.
Renderings were created to simulate how a map could transform into another. These provide a visual representation of how the pin-based technology could be used to display information.
Red Dot Winner 2023
UX Design Award Nominated 2023
ADC Talent Award Silver 2023