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'Vibrobelt' can help bicyclists navigate

Jan. 21, 2013 at 8:56 PM   |   Comments

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A belt that vibrates to indicate left and right turn directions can help bicyclists navigate while they keep their eyes on the road, Dutch researchers say.

Developed at the University of Amsterdam, the "vibrobelt" is meant to provide cyclists a "heads-up" navigator, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road after they have chosen their destination on a GPS smartphone, NewScientist.com reported Monday.

Vibrators in the belt give the biker directional nudges just before each turn, the researchers said.

Twenty volunteers in a test drove over unfamiliar routes both with a vibrobelt and with a standard GPS map on a handlebar-mounted smartphone.

While all the riders successful navigated to the destinations, researchers said they noted one difference: When questioned about landmarks they had passed, the vibrobelt users showed they were much more aware of their surroundings during the ride than those who were constantly glancing at a GPS screen.

Keeping bicyclists' eyes on the road could greatly increase riders' safety as they cycle among traffic, the researchers said.

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