In a very awesome and useful display of the innovative genius that we've come to expect from Android developers and modders, Interaction Designer (how awesome does that sound?) Michael Fretz and his team have come up with a bicycle navigation system that can only be described as ingenious. The awkwardly named Punkt.Fizen is a truly creative, original idea that utilizes the power of the Android platform and the versatility of the Arduino.
When I first read about the idea, I wasn't too sure about it but, after reading the intro and description, I got interested:
How does one orient oneself while biking, for example as a tourist? You certainly will read traffic signs, ask people for direction or use a tourist-map. But at least the last example will force you to stop the bike. How could we provide a navigation, where the flow remains undisturbed?
The user will need a very unimposing feedback where to go.
Punkt.Fizn is an Android and Arduino powered bike navigation system. Unlike most navigation systems we didn’t focus on a display. Instead directions will be given only through vibrations in the handlebars. Riding a bike with Punkt.Fizn is like knowing your way already.
If that wasn't intriguing enough, there is a video as well that illustrates the very simple but effective navigation method in action:
While the idea is still fairly new and in the prototype stages, it looks quite promising. I wouldn't be surprised to see these on store shelves (relatively) soon, whether done by Michael or someone else with a similar idea. I know several people who would personally benefit from this idea and, to be honest, this is exactly cool enough for me to dust off my bicycle and start using it as a main means of conveyance. I'd be really excited if this product went mainstream and I hope this drives (heh) other designers and inventors to try and match this level of creativity and intelligent implementation.
Update: We reached out to Michael for a comment regarding the future of this device, but his reply was a little disheartening - he would love to make it into a real product but is lacking any means to do so. If you know someone who can help Michael out and connect him to manufacturers, be sure to contact him in the source link below.
Source: Michael Fretz [Thanks, Michael! Keep it up!]