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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Vibrating rings guide city tourists
The rings are guided by a GPS system

Two vibrating rings which can guide the wearer around a city via global positioning satellite (GPS) have been unveiled by a British designer at the Royal College of Art.

The rings are the invention of Gail Knight, who developed them as a way of helping women feel safe in areas they are unfamiliar with.

"I admit that, as it is rings, they're obviously more attractive to women - and I'd been looking at women and their position in the public sphere, and how safe they feel in a public environment," she told BBC World Service's Culture Shock programme.

"I wanted to avoid the route of attack alarms, which nobody really uses, and just find a way of making people feel confident.

"I integrated that with walking and London, both of which I like, and came up with this device that was very feminine - but at the same time a piece of consumer electronics."

Buzz for direction

Not all of the necessary electronics could be put into the rings, so the device controller is worn either around the neck or clipped on to clothing.

The notion I could have a GPS that would direct me and make me a kind of 'literate tourist' in Tokyo would be a wonderful thing
Philip Dodd, Creative Cities Networks
The controller has a display of eight digits, which allows for a postcode to be entered. It also houses an electronic compass and GPS system, which is what powers the device's navigation.

The signal is then transmitted to the two rings, inside of which are a small vibrating motor and antenna.

The rings buzz for left and right, and have different vibrations for forwards and backwards. Both buzz when going in the wrong direction.

Philip Dodd, chairman of Creative Cities Networks, said he thought the rings had a good chance of becoming widespread in the future.

"I've just been in Tokyo, and there are no street signs in Tokyo, and I can't read a word of Japanese, so when I come out of the subway I am completely lost.

"So the notion I could have a GPS that would direct me and make me a kind of 'literate tourist' in Tokyo would be a wonderful thing - so I think tourism, which is the world's biggest industry, is going to be one of the really important things for this new hand-held satellite device."

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