"They are interested in a way to communicate simple commands in situations when the hands are doing other things, or radios can`t be used," said Lynette Jones, the MIT engineer leading the project.
Along with colleagues Brett Lockyer and Erin Piateski, Jones
has been testing different symbols on volunteers wearing the vest.
"We have created 15 with very high recognition," Jones
said, adding that eight of the symbols are derived from hand signals already used by the US military.
"They communicate things like stop, look left, run, proceed faster or proceed slower.When four corners of the array vibrate, for example, this means stop.And a vibrating column, moving from one side to the other, means turn left or right," Jones
"This is best suited to command-based situations like the military or fire-fighters," said Jones
"It could also be used to direct blind people around a city, but because their path is less defined, that would be more difficult," he
According to Jones
, the vest can operate continuously for around five hours, which should allow it to function for several days under normal conditions, as messages would not be relayed continuously.