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Handheld Navigator

September 3, 2015

A handheld navigation cube changes shape to guide users in the right direction.




Adam Spiers holds an Animotus cube. (William Weir/Yale University)

A shape-shifting navigation device. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In total darkness, audience members are experiencing a theatrical production based on the 19th century novel Flatland. They move through the pitch-black space, guided to various installations by the voice of actors heard through headphones, and by the motions of a handheld cube called the Animotus.

ADAM SPIERS (Yale University):

You hold this device, it’s like a cube, and it can extend its kind of  top half and also twist it, so the idea is that it can show which direction to walk and also how far to walk to get to a target.


That’s Yale roboticist Adam Spiers. He says in addition to its use in unusual theatrical productions, the Animotus could one day help both blind and sighted people navigate through buildings and cities, guided only by their sense of touch. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Video: Audience members participating in the Flatlands production

Flatland sound design by Matthias Kispert