Haptic feedback might be able to reduce accidents caused by in-car distractions.

AT&T Lab hopes to reduce accidents caused by distracted drivers by inventing a steering wheel that provides haptic feedback. The steering wheel is equipped with 20 actuators that can vibrate in various patterns. When it sends vibrations in a clockwise direction, it lets the driver know to turn right; while vibrating anti-clockwise suggests to turn left.

With advanced on-board GPS navigation in vehicles, it’s sometimes hard for the driver to keep their eyes on the road. Even when the directions are read out loud, drivers are still distracted by where they need to go, rather than concentrating on on-coming traffic. The haptic steering wheel hopes to provide more intuitive directions where drivers can react quickly and with minimum distraction. The in-house research suggests that when the vibrating steering wheel is used in conjunction with audio and visual cues, inattentiveness in younger drivers drops by 3.1 percent.

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