Version 0.3, 18th of February 2010

Hello, and welcome to the manual for the PocketNavigator. The PocketNavigator is a mobile navigation application, primarily designed for pedestrians. Most of you will probably compare PocketNavigator's functionality with the functions provided by Google Maps. However, there are a few major differences between these applications. First, the PocketNavigator is completely free and only relys on open and non-commercial systems. Second, the PocketNavigator provides tactile navigation, which allows you to navigate without the need to look on the display. Finally, the PocketNavigator is equipped with some nice detail functions, like e.g. to save a map area for offline use.

Intentionally the PocketNavigator is designed to be self-explaining. However, this manual helps you to quickly get started with productive outdoor use and prevents you from doing serious mistakes, in particular when using the tactile navigation support. Those who are familiar with the app already do not need to read any further.

Warning: The PocketNavigator is still under development. Thus, the described functionality might change a bit over time. We'll do our best to have this manual up-to-date. If you feel something important is missing, please let us know.


When you start the application for the first time, a set of pop-ups will appear, giving you a brief introduction into the core functionalities. You can restart this tutorial again at any time through the menu, as described later. When you have past the tutorial you'll see the main application screen, primarily consisting of the map. This screen is the regular screen when you use the application. Most of the functionality required for day-to-day use will be initiated from here.

  1. The map is the key element to orientate one in a certain environment. The visual presentation of the map uses the map tiles from OpenStreetMap, which is a community-based map, where everybody can contribute to. You can move the map by dragging your finger across the screen in any direction you want. If you double tap the map at a certain point, the routing will be started with the tapped point set as goal and your current location as starting point. If you touch and hold (long click) a point for a certain time, a context menu will appear, which will also provide you with the option to initiate the routing. Depending on what type of display your device is supporting you might want to prefer one of the two methodologies, the double tap functionality can be disabled in the application preferences. You can quit the center user or rotate map function by just start to drag the map. A pinch gesture, which is known from Google Maps, is not supported.
  2. Your location on the map will be indicated through an arrow-shaped graphic, drawn above the map. There is a slightly opaque, light blue circle around the users location, which is an indicator for the position inaccuracy, which might be induced through technical interferences. The direction where the user-arrow will point to represents the direction where the device is pointed within the environment. Thus, if you turn to look in the opposite direction, the user arrow will point into the other direction as well. The user heading is obtained through the compass, which is integrated in your mobile phone. If you enable the rotate map function, the user arrow will always point up, but the map rotates according to your heading. How you change between the two modes is described later.
  3. The center user and rotate map functionality can be enabled by touching a button in the upper left of your screen. On the first tab the user icon will be set centred in the middle of the display. Subsequently, on the second tab the rotate map feature will be enabled, which rotates the map instead of the user icon. The rotate map feature only can be enabled if the center user feature has been enabled before. Both functions will be disabled with a drag on the map. Zooming will not disable any of the functions.
  4. The zoom buttons are located in the bottom right of the display and allow you to zoom in or out the map in steps to reveal a higher level of detail about the environment.
  5. The calibrate compass button will appear in the top right, if your device's compass has reached a certain level of inaccuracy and needs a re-calibration. To re-calibrate your compass, rotate the device about each of the three axis. After a successful recalibration the button will disappear automatically.
  6. The route is only displayed, if you have enabled route guidance to a certain destination. It consists of a grey line, of which the next waypoint is highlighted through a opaque light-grey circle.
  7. The visual compass appears to support you in the interpretation of the tactile feedback, if you have enabled the tactile compass functionality. A needle-like indicator will show you which tactile patterns are played in the moment and thus, in which direction the set destination or next waypoint is located.

Main Menu

The menu of the context navigator is hidden behind the menu button on your android phone. Just push or touch your menu button if you are running the application to make the PocketNavigator menu appear on your screen. The menu is divided into six entries. The first entry allows to stop a routing, if the routing has been started and needs to be disabled. The second entry allows to turn the tactile vibration feedback of the tactile compass on or off. The third entry can be used to re-trigger the initial short on-device tutorial. The fourth item allows to go to the preferences. The fifth item brings up the search addresses view and finally, the last item gives a short overview on the purpose of the PocketNavigator.

The Tactile Compass

The Tactile Compass is one of the main differences of the PocketNavigator compared to Google Maps. The Tactile Compass is an egocentric additional navigation aid, which complements the map under certain conditions. In practice, the set destination or the next waypoint of your route is being displayed through vibration patterns of your phone. Every modern smart phone comes with a vibration motor integrated to give non-auditive and non-visual feedback about an incoming call or message. However, the Tactile Compass uses the vibration motor to attract you towards the next waypoint. Because of the limited dimensions of freedom of a vibrator, the Tactile Compass uses patterns (also known as Tactons) to encode the information. Two short pulses mean that you are heading the destination or next waypoint, one short and one longer pulse indicate that the waypoint is on your right, and three short pulses give evidence that the waypoint is behind you. If the destination is on the left hand side, one long pulse followed by one short pulse is presented - right the opposite pattern of the right hand pattern. The patterns are visualized in the following figure, which will be shown in the PocketNavigator as well.

The Tactile Compass can be used under almost every conditions, because of two different modes. The first mode is automatically enabled if you hold the device in your hand and try to scan the environment (scanning mode). Then the compass is used to determine your heading and calculate the to be presented feedback. The advantage of this mode are the high dynamics in which the patterns are displayed, as you can easily turn around and don't need to walk to update the vibration pattern. The second mode uses the GPS heading instead of the compass. This brings the advantage that the Tactile Compass works in the pocket as well, which is the second mode (pocket mode). With the pocket mode you can leave your device inside your pocket and are still aware of where to go or how to turn.

Looking up an Address

Beside the double tab or long click option to start routing, there is the possibility to directly enter the address of the destination. The PocketNavigator is capable to translate this address to coordinates through Geocoding. Once the address has been entered, there are two options, what you can do. You can start the routing with the set destination, or you can download the map around the entered location for later off-line use.


The settings screen helps you to adjust certain functionalities of the PocketNavigator to make the use of the application more convenient. The settings are divided into four different functionalities: routing, map view, tactile feedback, and user study. In the routing tab you can change if the routing is enabled, if the route should be recalculated automatically in case you took the wrong turn, and which routing mode you prefer (pedestrian, cyclist or car). In the map view tab you can dis- or enable the double-tab functionality for the map surface, which is used to start the route calculation. Also the tactile feedback of the tactile compass can be controlled from a separate tab. You cen set if the vibration is on or off, and if the tactile signal should be muted if you're following the route. Thus, only patterns are played if you're at chance to leave the route. For the user study tab you can state if you want to be part of our research, where we observe completely anonymised navigation behaviour. Find more information about the user study in the about view.