Spatial audio guidance can make navigation hands free

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London, Feb 23 (IANS) Most people are able to keep their hands and eyes free for other tasks by following spatial audio guidance while navigating through streets, according to a Finnish study.

Using sound for navigation leaves the user’s hands and eyes free for other tasks.

“Spatial audio is a particularly intuitive method to guide people in different directions. Our research results will hopefully contribute to the development of future navigation applications,” said Robert Albrecht from Aalto University in a statement.

Researchers from Aalto University and Nokia Technologies investigated two different guidance types – route guidance and beacon guidance.

With route guidance, the user was guided along a route with the help of spatial audio – in this case music heard from the route in front of the user.

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In the case of beacon guidance, the music was instead heard straight from the destination and the user found his or her own route towards the destination.

The researchers found that the user’s preference between route guidance and beacon guidance seemed to depend more strongly on the environment than on the guidance method itself.

“Beacon navigation works well in familiar environments and in cities where the user can make a turn at every intersection. In suburban areas, beacon navigation may not work that well, since the user may not know the distance to the next possible turn,” Albrecht noted.

The majority of the participants were happy with the investigated music navigation method and expressed their desire to use it in the future.

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Everyone reached their destination, although a few participants found it slightly difficult to hear the direction of the music.

The participants were equipped with acoustically transparent headphones. With the help of these, they could clearly hear both the music and sounds from the surroundings.

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