jGPX keeps the bachelor party moving in the right direction, regardless of BAC


[Davy] and his friend [Chris] were tasked with putting together a bachelor party for their friend [J], and had a little more in mind than the standard drunken revelry. To earn the privilege of partying his brains out, they decided that [J] would have to fulfill a series of tasks and challenges before joining up with the rest of his friends for the evening’s events. [Davy] didn’t specify what these tasks were, lest he spoil the surprise, but he did let us in on a little device that he and [Chris] built to help guide the bachelor through his day.

They were a bit worried that the bachelor would get sidetracked during his journey if he happened to imbibe along the way, so they built a device called jGPX that would ensure [J] stayed on track and on time. jGPX is a custom GPS navigator consisting of an Arduino, a GPS module with built-in antenna, and a compass.  The pair created a set of routes in Google Earth, exporting the data to KML for interpretation by their device. The jGPX is meant to guide [J] along via a small LCD screen that shows him the distance to his target as well as the proper direction of travel to get there.

It looks like [J’s] friends put a lot of effort into his party, and although there are no details as to how things went, we’re sure it was a blast!

Forearm-mounted GPS uses LEDs to light the way home


While some people can rely solely on memory and landmarks to find their way home, others need a bit more help. Consider Instructables user [_macke_] for instance.

Like other screenless GPS navigation devices we have seen, his “Find Home Detector” uses a GPS module to obtain his location, guiding the way home via a set of alternate indicators. In this case, he uses LEDs which are laid out like a compass rose. When [_macke_] is aimed toward his destination, the LED nearest to his fingertips lights up, letting him know he is on the right path. As he turns away from home, the other LEDs light, indicating the direction in which he should turn.

His forearm-mounted GPS navigator uses a LilyPad Arduino to control the system, much like others we have seen. It is connected to a GPS sensor and a compass module that work in concert to guide him home. The compass is responsible obtaining his heading information, and while it might look as if the LEDs that surround the module are pointing North, they are in fact indicating the heading of his destination instead.

It’s a cool little creation, and we can imagine it would be quite helpful if you happen to be walking home after a long night of drinking.

Be sure to check out the video below for a quick demonstration.

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Haptic GPS sneakers for the visually impaired


The world can be a pretty difficult place to navigate when you lack the ability to see it. There are many visually impaired people across the globe, with some figures claiming up to 40 million individuals affected. While walking canes and seeing-eye dogs can be a huge help, [Anirudh] of Multimodal Interactions Group, HP Labs India, and some students at the College of Engineering in Pune, India (COEP) have been hard at work constructing a haptic navigation system for the blind.

[Anirudh Sharma and Dushyant Mehta] debuted their haptic feedback shoe design during an MIT Media Lab Workshop hosted at COEP. In its current form, Google Maps and GPS data is sourced from an Android device, which is fed to an Arduino via Bluetooth. The Arduino then activates one of four LEDs mounted on a shoe insert that are used to indicate which direction the individual should travel in order to safely reach their destination. While the current iteration uses LEDs, they will be swapped out for small vibrating motors in the final build.

We’re always fans of assistive technology hacks, and we think this one is great. The concept works well, as we have seen before, so it’s just a matter of getting this project refined and in the hands shoes of those who need it.

Stick around for a quick video about the project filmed at the MIT/COEP event.

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GPS-enabled bag allows for carefree city roaming


[Josh] was looking for a way to enjoy exploring the city of Chicago safely, and hacked together a messenger bag navigation system to ensure he always knew where he was going.

While riding, he wanted to embrace the idea of Dérive, but he felt that he was being too overly conscious of time as well as his location, which took all the fun out of his unplanned excursions. Having recently been “doored” by a car, he was also looking for a way to help him navigate the city streets without being overly distracted with finding his way around.

His “Map Bag” solves both of these problems for him, without being obtrusive. He fit a messenger bag with a LilyPad Arduino and a GPS receiver for keeping track of his location. The Arduino can constantly monitor speed, heading, and location, directing [Josh] to his destination by vibrating one of 8 shaftless motors that are installed throughout the bag’s chest strap. Now while he rides, he can take in the city’s atmosphere while also knowing that he will get exactly where he needs to – on time.

He does not have any source code or schematics on his site as of yet, but we hope to see some in the near future. If you are interested, check out the videos of the bag’s construction embedded below.

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Google maps wristlet navigator

This on-wrist navigation system uses Google Maps and something called… paper. This is a throwback to scroll-based directions from the 1920’s and 30’s that [Simon] built. He soldered a couple of brass tubes to a brass back plate, then added sides and a face crystal. Now he prints out step by step direction from the popular mapping website and winds them onto scrolls. We’re not sure that we’d take the time to do this, but hey, at least the screen resolution is fantastic and you don’t have to worry about battery life.

13th century navigation system

[Tom Wujec] explains how an astrolabe works and its importance in our technological development. He argues that an astrolabe was the world’s first “popular computer”. It measures the sky and that measurement can be used to tell time, survey land, and navigate a ship.

Astrolabes are built from three pieces and according to [Tom], educated children in the 1200’s would not just have been able to use one, but could build one as well. Electronics have certainly made our lives easier, but there’s something powerful about such a useful yet simple device.

Keychain GPS finder

gps keychain navigation

With a user interface consisting of two buttons and a three digit display, the GPS finder guides the user back to a saved location. Nine locations can be saved for navigation recall. Press a button to save location and press another button to recall. Each switch has a secondary function, for management purposes such as memory indexes and power features. An AarLogic GPS 3A module and AVR microcontroller make up the guts. With the popularity of Geocaching, this would make an impressive trinket; Leading the hunter to an undocumented treasure.