In Brief

A Yale University engineer builds a small cube that acts as a tactile compass for the visually impaired (or those caught in the dark)

Compasses and GPS help people without disabilities find their destinations every day, but are of less use to the visually impaired, or even sighted people in the dark. Adam Spiers, a Yale University engineer, has built a shape-shifting cube that indicates direction by its shape independent of sight.

The bottom half of the cube is a stable, unmoving base. The top half separates and indicates the direction a user should go to reach a set destination, and rotates in real time to indicate turns ahead or that the user has drifted off course. The current iteration isn’t sensitive enough to keep somebody on the sidewalk instead of a nearby street, but will keep up with the turns and directions normally provided by a smartphone or in-console GPS.

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