Navigation Wearable

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Participants John henry
Skills programming, electronics, mapping
Status Active
Niche Electronics
Purpose Fun

A wearable navigation device (probably a belt) which always communicates the direction of magnetic North.

Navigating a strange city has gotten much easier in the past 10 years. I remember relying on paper maps, printing out mapquest directions, and even sms-ing google to get step by step directions in 140 characters.

But in 2018, I still find myself walking around staring at a smartphone screen. Getting out of a metro or train station and figuring out the orientation, or waiting for my phone GPS to figure out which direction I'm facing.

Inspired by similar academic and hacker projects such as the FeelSpace Belt, Northpaw from Noisebridge.


  • Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • Minimu-9 v5 Gyro, Accelerometer, and Compass
  • a bunch of button vibration motors
  • Cheap hidden pocket money belt (waiting on shipping)
  • Get appropriately small USB battery
  • Flat ethernet cable
  • Set up RPI with i2c interface library for IMU
  • Install / test minimu9 library
  • Figure out how to calibrate headless

To do:

  • Figure out / test GPIO for coin motors & power draw
  • Justa advised need something like a uln2803 due to high power draw

  • Figure out slimmer RPi Zero case
  • Understand IMU/AHRS output in terms of geographic coordinate system (i.e. NESW)
  • Likely need different power source to drive motors?


  • Think about what other interface modes would be useful; North only, navigation mode
  • What other information can I get from the IMU that would be interesting?
  • What is the ideal form factor? A belt, an anklet, some separate modules?
  • Can you do better than magnetic north? Is there a database that maps magnetic to true north globally?


  • Use open source mapping framework to offer turn by turn mode in place of only North over BTLE from iphone
  • Simpler/cheaper implementation in the future: arduino clone w/ compass only module