North Paw: an anklet that trains your sense of direction

I was told about this wearable last year, and I’ve found it endlessly fascinating. North Paw is a for-purchase wearable. It is an anklet that vibrates to tell you where magnetic north is.

One blog explained it like this:

“The North Paw casing houses 8 cellphone vibrator motors that, when worn, evenly encircle the user’s ankle. A control unit that senses magnetic north turns the motors on and off, and at any given time only the motor closest to north vibrates. As the skin continually senses this vibration on different parts of the ankle, neural pathways communicating this information with the brain quickly begin training it to associate the sensation with direction.”

How poetic to  train your mind to understand cosmological stuff that your other senses aren’t attuned to! Supposedly, early prototyping studies that were done (with a belt rather than an anklet) even showed that it actually trained people to understand where magnetic north was.

Obviously super unsophisticated wear-able wise, I suspect it could be dramatically improved by using a different battery source (a wire battery, when they finally come out for production, maybe?), and smaller compass housing. I wonder if you could make a more “wearable” housing simply by vacuum forming or 3d printing something less rectilinear and boxy? It might not be smaller, but it would be more in line with the human body’s general shapes (soft n squidgy).

North Paw website

Some guy describes prototyping North Paw, calling it his “new sense organ”

ThinkGeek and a funny video

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