PROBLEM

People in motion are often distracted. In 2014, the Pew Research Center found that seventy percent of 18 to 24 year-olds had been bumped into by someone using a smartphone (Richter, 2014), and in Boston, thirty-one percent of bikers were found to be distracted at high-traffic intersections (Wolfe, 2016). For bikers, distractions were either “auditory (earbuds/phones in or on ears)” or “visual/tactile (electronic device or other object in hand)” (ibid), and these types of distractions are the very methods upon which mobile navigation devices (smartphones) rely. Given the vulnerability of bikers to accidents and injury, such distractions merit serious consideration in bicycle safety (Useche, 2018), especially in an urban landscape of drivers and pedestrians who may be equally distracted by smartphone usage.
DESIGN RESEARCH 

The power of touch
Haptic technology communicates via touch, and of all the human senses, touch initiates the fastest response time in humans (Peon, 2013). This gives a wearable device like Tactus advantages over sight and sound in situations where a person must react to directions, and without taking a biker’s eyes off the road and possible danger.
Gloves were then chosen based on the areas of greatest tactile sensitivity in the human body. Hands have six points of touch sensitivity, and are also a natural place for intervention in turning directions since hands rest on a bike’s handlebars for steering.
The tactile sensory innervation of the hand (Nature Reviews Neuroscience) was then examined and compared to the normal hand position on bicycle handlebars to identify the ideal area for vibration signals. 
The end result is a glove that targets vibrations to the hand’s pacini endings in signaling when a biker should turn left or right, with signals directed to the appropriate hand.
IMPACT

Tactus has the potential to benefit the estimated 47.54 million bike riders in the United States by reducing distraction and making their rides safer without sacrificing navigational assistance. 
Although specifically designed for bikers, Tactus has potential use and value across pedestrians and other modes of human transportation. Features and additional benefits could include:
Nudges that prompt bikers/walkers to put their phones away
Lower chances of being the target of phone theft
Minimized time spent stationary in an unfamiliar area, increasing physical safety
Encouragement for bicyclists to comply with state laws regarding the use of headphones
An affordable, portable alternative to more expensive navigation options
Bike safer. Bike with Tactus.

You may also like

Back to Top