I explored this idea shortly after the iPod’s launch and prior to the proliferation and use of current way-finding systems we enjoy today. I pitched the idea but it never saw the light of day.
In visually noisy environments as we often find in Taiwan, way finding systems have a tendency to lose effectiveness. Also, as a space evolves over time the way finding system, unless designed with a great deal of forsight, may not be able to adapt. We have been provided with the means for up-to-date wayfinding using electronic map and GPS systems but in these complex visual environments that you see in Taiwan forcing the user of such a system to remove their visual focus on anything over than the task at hand can produce problems. An alternative to the time consuming and interruptive nature of the push and pull of visual way finding interfaces would be to create a device that functions similarly to a museums guided tour. Such a device would give you location data aurally, at the periphery of your attention, seamlessly integrating with your environment. A secondary function would be entertainment, playing music, creating the impression of walking/driving through a soundtrack or music video for the area.
How it works
Prior to travel a person would select their travel region and choose from different thematic channels: geographical, historical, music, and practical. The audio information is then downloaded from a server and transferred to the iPod (or self contained unit) on the next sync. GPS provides real-time location information and tracks are played as soon as the person reaches the geographic location corresponding to the x,y coordinates under which the information is filed. People would listen to the audio tracks on their headphones. They can also listen to the soundtracks independently if they choose and the location data as well