Mobile Technologies Group
Georgia Institute of Technology

686 Cherry Street
Atlanta, GA 30332-0165
For more info email:
David Jimison

Georgia Institute of Technology

Ant Farm Interactive


Current Research: Wigglestick

Wigglestick is a prototype software application being developed by the Mobile Technology Group of Georgia Institute of Technology, for use on next generation smart phones. Its name is slang for a divining rod used to find water or precious gems. Taking advantage of these phones' awareness of their location, Wigglestick enables users to drop media at specific spots, have their location visible to approved friends, and find their way to desired places.

How it Works?

Location Awareness
Next Gen mobile phones have three different methods of determining their approximate coordinates, each of which has varying degrees of accuracy and resolution of location, as well as technology requirements.

-Cell Tower IDs: Mobile phones are aware of which tower they are connected to for communications. By matching the identification of these towers to a database of tower locations, a cell phone can determine its location to within a few block radius (within a city.)

-GPS: Global Positioning Systems are able to deliver location to within 10 feet when the user is outside.

-WiFi Triangulation: Mobile Phones with the ability to transmit on the 802.11 spectrum, and thus use wifi, can create a database of which wireless access points they are near, and what the signal strength is to them. This system is accurate to 10 feet when there are a sufficient number of wireless access points, and is currently used by the University of Washington's Placelab group and Ekahau.

Ambient Information
Wigglestick creates an informative background that complements the user wandering, rather than informing a specific point A to point B approach. Consider it similar to musical radar that changes tune based on current location, as opposed to MapQuest's drawing a red line across a map with specific directions. With Wigglestick, the information shifts as the user moves, enabling them to step away from the regular path, and find their way back when ready.

The research involved with Wigglestick will explore using vibration, sound, and visualizations in different combinations, as methods for suggesting the users relation to digital objects around them.

Potential Applications
Wigglestick is a prototype architecture which enables numerous applications to be built on top of it. The initial work in its generation will be to learn more about user interaction with location-based and way finding services. In order to conduct such studies, the following applications are suggested:

-A musical system that changes sounds based on the users movement

-A visualization system that enables users to move towards each other or specific locations

-A vibration based sonar that informs a user when they are approaching a location through variations of pulsing.