Outcomes

Following are some outcomes of the integration of spatial cognition and converging NBI technologies:

• Expanding sensory and cognitive capabilities should improve learning and result in a more NBIC-enlightened public, scientists, engineers, and public policymakers.

• Developing multimodal input and output interfaces will enrich human ability to process and analyze information, covering all types of spatial information required for microscopic, global, or extraterrestrial research. It will also help to remove the rapidly growing effects of the digital divide by allowing more disabled (or otherwise disadvantaged) people to join the computer-literate population, thus improving employment possibilities and improving quality of life.

Converging NBIC technology will broaden our abilities to think "outside the box" in a variety of sensory domains, such as the following examples of convergence of NBI and spatial cognition methods:

• Natural language-driven mobile and wearable computers

• Internet search engines based on human wayfinding practices

• Smart fabrics that sense the environment and warn us of pollution levels, etc.

• Smart environments (e.g., remote auditory signage systems) that talk to us as we travel through them

• GPS-based personal guidance systems that facilitate travel (e.g., tourism) in unfamiliar places

• Smart maps that explain themselves at the touch of a stylus or as a result of gaze or gesture (e.g., "You are here" maps or on-screen computer representations of data) (Fig. B.5)

• Robotic guide dogs that carry large environmental databases and can develop routes to unfamiliar places

• Smart buildings that inform about their contents and inhabitants, e.g., transit terminals (Fig. B.6).

Of particular interest are NBIC-based knowledge and devices that enhance spatial cognition used in wayfinding performance:

• Remote auditory signage (Talking Signs/Remote Infrared Auditory Signage) (at places or on vehicles, including mass transit)

• Talking fluorescent lights inside buildings such as shopping centers and transit terminals (Fig. B.7)

GPS-based guidance systems with Pointlink capabilities to locations and websites for place-based information.

Figure B.6. Transit terminal with remote auditory signage.
Figure B.7. Talking neon lights in airport terminal.
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