North Paw: A vibrating, ankle-worn compass


February 28, 2013

North Paw Directional Anklet Kit vibrates to provide a constant reference to magnetic north

North Paw Directional Anklet Kit vibrates to provide a constant reference to magnetic north

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If your hobbies include using a soldering iron and spending time exploring the great outdoors, then the North Paw Directional Anklet Kit from ThinkGeek may be of interest. It's a self-build vibrating compass which straps to the ankle, allowing the user to always tell which direction magnetic north lies.

As its name suggests, the North Paw Directional Anklet Kit comes in kit form, so it’s first necessary to break out the wire strippers and soldering iron to put the device together – a process which is reported to be “easy-ish.”

Once assembled, the unit sports a total of eight vibrating pager motors, which surround your leg. Whichever direction magnetic north happens to be, the integrated compass will cause the corresponding motor to vibrate, thus allowing you to navigate hands-free.

The North Paw runs off an internal battery, which is recharged with a USB mini-B cable, and it's secured to the ankle with a Velcro strap.

While we can't vouch for its efficacy, always knowing the direction of magnetic north could certainly prove useful – just be sure not to wear it through airport security.

The North Paw Directional Anklet Kit is available from Think Geek and will set you back US$159.99.

The promo video below features an intrepid explorer demonstrating the device in use.

Source: ThinkGeek via Gizmodo

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

Because knowing or learning how to read the movement of the sun or a normal compass is too mainstream...


It certainly adds that naughty celebritee panache....

Bob Ehresman

Surely, a compass is easier, much cheaper, requires no battery, and no electronics. This gadget is totally pointless. A triumph of design over common sense. The wearer would look like some criminal out on licence.

David Clarke

I concur, this form factor is already taken by the Law Enforcement community. Aside from really standing out in your local boy scout troop this is a distinctly stupid way to read a compass.


Why not just use one motor and have it vibrate when the wearer is facing north. Would be a lot cheaper!


You guys miss the point a bit. This device is constantly on, streaming magnetic input as if it were another sensory information. There have been research on this topic in the past few years, after some point, the information bypass the cognitive center, you just know where north is, without thinking about it.

Reading a compass is certainly cheaper but it's not the same level of integration with your brain. Imagine if we were all deaf, getting audio cues by reading signs. Now someone come along with a new device that allows you to "sense" air vibrations directly in a device called an "ear", would you not want one ?

Also, compass is just the begining, another project related to the North Paw is the MapBag by Josh Billions, it's a messenger bag that gives you the GPS direction via a vibrotactile belt.

Wearable computing is coming.

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