Wayfinding

The Digital Human

By BBC Radio 4

Wayfinding

Aleks Krotoski compares our intuitive way-finding skills to those of the digital world and finds out why describing the best way from A to B still poses problems for tech. Simon Wheatcroft is an adventurer who's run all over the world and at distances that would make marathon runners shudder, he's also blind, he explains how he combined the sensations he gets underfoot with notifications from his fitness app to learn to run solo. Combining cues from the world around you to find your way is Tristan Gooley's passion. As the Natural Navigator he uses anything natural or man made not only to find out where he is but where he's going. He eschews all navigational tools; maps compasses as well as digital devices in the belief that the head down follow the dot mentality they foster impoverishes our experience of the journey itself. Thora Tenbrink from Bangor University explains why the directions we receive from our devices often feel so alien that we really have to focus to make sense of them. While tech can use street names and exact distances, humans are vague navigators heading in the general direction and using landmarks. The two approaches aren't always that compatible. Our natural way-finding abilities can let us down though when we're under stress. Professor David Canter has been studying behaviour in emergency evacuations for much of his career, he explains the sometimes odd and contradictory things we resort to when trying to escape a disaster. So should we look to technology to come to the rescue? We hear from researchers at Georgia tech who explored how far participants would trust a robot to save them from a burning building - apparently quite a lot! Producer: Peter McManus.
Wayfinding
Wayfinding
The Digital Human