In the near future, a buzz in your belt or a pulse from your jacket may give you instructions on how to navigate your surroundings.
Think of it as tactile Morse code: vibrations from a wearable, GPS-linked device that tell you to turn right or left, or stop, depending on the pattern of pulses you feel. Such a device could free drivers from having to look at maps, and could also serve as a tactile guide for the visually and hearing impaired.
Lynette Jones, a senior research scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, designs wearable tactile displays. Through her work, she’s observed that the skin is a sensitive — though largely untapped — medium for communication.
“If you compare the skin to the retina, you have about the same number of sensory receptors, you just have them over almost two square meters of space, unlike the eye where it’s all concentrated in an extremely small area,” Jones says. “The skin is generally as useful as a very acute area. It’s just that you need to disperse the information that you’re presenting.” (via Can you feel me now? - MIT News Office)