The boffins at Japanese phone giantrecently showed off a prototype GPS device that guides users by seeming to pull their hand in a certain direction.
Under development for the past few years, Buru-Navi (PDF) is described as "route navigation by pseudo-attraction force." While it doesn't actually pull hands, vibrations within the unit create that sensation.
NTT Communication Science Laboratories recently showed off its latest version of the device at an open house event in Kyoto.
Weighing about half a pound, the disc contains a weight that moves at different speeds to mimic the sensation of pulling. The video below shows an earlier, rectangular version of Buru-Navi with the weight mechanism exposed.
The device could be incorporated into cell phones to aid visually impaired people, or in game controllers as an alternative force-feedback feature.
It could also help tourists find their way in foreign cities, says the lab's Sensory and Motor Research Group.
NTT plans to commercialize Buru-Navi around 2016, according to the Nikkei newspaper.