Magellan is a smart backpack using tactile feedback from the shoulder strap, which will guide you toward your destination.


My Contribution

In this project, I designed and made the hardware circuit board, and designed vibrate feedback modes when users use the backpack. Other contributions like User Journey Map, User Flow, and Process Flow Diagram between hardware, software, and users.

Magellan navigation backpack

Backpacks are useful for many reasons but they are mainly considered for the sole function of carrying things around. Magellan gives a new purpose to the product, the possibility to be a helpful companion through the streets of a foreign city, where the main activity should be looking at buildings, monuments and the nature all around, not just the screen of your smartphone! This new product allows you to enjoy your travel without the need to constantly check your phone to get directions when moving around a new city, it will let you know when you have to turn guiding you toward your destination.

Date: 2019年1月15日
KEYWORDS: Hardware, Software, Arduino, iOT
TEAM MEMBER: Andrea Zito, Nicolò Azzolin, Zhu Tao
SPECIAL THANKS: Davide Spallazzo, Francesco Bruschi, Sara Belloli, Arianna Primavera


Tactile feedback from shoulder strap directly delivered to the shoulder of the user.

The use of vibrating motors in the shoulder straps enables the use of a tactile feedback directly on the body of the user that will know when it’s time to turn or change direction to get to the final destination. This kind of feedback won’t interfere with sight and hearing, senses that should be used to enjoy the surroundings. The backpack is connected to an app that manages the map and GPS signal to generate the indications at the right moment.


How can I safely use navigation application and riding a bicycle at the same time?

The prevalence of take-away software lead more riders on the street. Those riders do not have a fixed destination. Navigation application is essential for them. However, keep checking phone during the journey is not a safe action. We aim to solve this problem. We decided to “try it by ourself” to discover the user’s action during the navigation process. The application mainly used visual feedback to deliver the turning point. But, user’s vision during the journey is better to observe the situation on the road to keep safe. On the road, it is usually noisy, also auditory sense could helps user to identify the cars position. So tactile is the best solution to instead of vision to deliver the turning point message.


ESP32 for Hardware, Mapbox for software.

The prototype we developed was used to test the effectiveness of the product and to point out possible problems that wouldn’t expect before. The testing phase allowed us to find an optimal position for the vibrating motors and to manage the complexity of the different signals, giving the clearest signal to the user.

For the realization of the prototype we used one ESP32 board connected to four vibrating motors through cables and a power bank to provide energy to the system. The motors were embedded in the shoulder straps. The native app managing the communication is based on Mapbox SDK, it establishes a BLE connection with the ESP32 sending strings with the specific instructions to activate the vibration.