updated 09:30 pm EDT, Sat March 24, 2012
ATT brings gaming wheel idea to car GPS
AT&T Labs has been conducting experiments that would bring the haptic (vibration) feedback of steering wheels for video games to the real-world in a practical sense. The new method (not yet pictured) would communicate GPS driving directions through vibrating the wheel in patterns, such as clockwise or counterclockwise, to indicate when the driver should turn. A group of 20 individual motors ring the wheel, making it more advanced than the limited points of a wheel for a PS3 or Xbox 360 gamer.
Along with keeping the driver from having to watch a screen or listen to a voice, the method was found to have improved overall attentiveness: younger drivers in and around their mid-twenties saw distraction drop 3.1 percent. Other studies have alternately shown more attention in retirement-age drivers.
Interface group researcher Kevin Li has warned that it might take years for the technology to be in shipping cars. AT&T Labs was discussing the haptic technique with car designers, however, and expects it to be a reality. The primary challenges are issues such as different hand positions and making the signals sufficiently clear. Safety-focused brands like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz weren't named, but would be logical early adopters. [via MIT Technology Review and The Verge]