New and Old Personal Guidance Systems Picture DIRECTOR:Reginald G. Golledge

PROGRAM AND RESEARCH FACILITIES: The Research Unit on Spatial Cognition and Choice is located within the Geography Department at UCSB, under the direction of Professor Reginald G. Golledge. RUSCC is a research unit and is not a teaching program. It is funded by the Department of Geography. Its purpose is to encourage multi-disciplinary research on:

Spatial Cognition and Behavioral Geography
Activity Based Disaggregate Travel Modeling
Geography and Disability
Wayfinding and Navigation
Non-visual Computer Interfaces for Accessing Onscreen Maps, Images, and Graphics

One ongoing navigation and wayfinding project is that devoted to conceptualizing, building and testing a Personal Guidance System for travel in unfamiliar environments. The UCSB Personal Guidance System (PGS) is in the accompanying photo. Conceived by UCSB psychologist Jack Loomis, this device uses GPS to track an individual as they move through the real world, recording their trip as a trace in a spatial database (digital map) carried in a wearable computer. GIS functionalities calculate shortest paths between current location (fixed by the GPS) and a given destination (keyboarded or spoken). A choice of interfaces include spatial language, virtual beacons, an auditory virtual environment, or Talking Signs.

The original version was stored in a backpack and weighed 28 lb.. The illustrated version evolved as miniaturization of computer sand smaller and more powerful batteries evolved, and consists of a 6 lb waist pack.

The Geography Department provides office and laboratory space for conducting research. The lab hosts specialized equipment for conducting research with blind and vision-impaired individuals.


1. Remote Infrared Auditory Signage (RIAS)

Project Director: James Marston
This project examines the use of RIAS to assist vision impaired travelers to wayfind in complex environments, particularly in facilitating mode transfers.

2. Navigation Without Sight

Project Director: Yvonne Lippa
This project examines the use of reinforcing strategies such as building route models, creating verbal direction and pointing to designated landmarks and choice points on route scale effects are examined by comparing strategies at small (institutional) and large (neighborhood) environments.

3. Personal Guidance System

Project Director: Jack Loomis, Reg Golledge, Roberta Klatzky
This project demonstrates the possibilities of navigation systems for blind individuals through the use of custom made/ custom modified GIS/GPS systems using special custom made wearable computers.

4. Haptic Soundscapes (Calgary)

Project Directors: Dan Jacobson (University of Calgary), Reginald Golledge
Enabling access to digital maps, diagrams, and graphs without the need for vision.

5. Assessing Route Accessibility for Wheelchair Users

Project Director: Andrea Nuernberger (UCSB)
An online survey was distributed to investigate wheelchair users' trip planning and information acquisition behavior prior to traveling to novel destinations. printed copy of survey (pdf)

6. Spatial Thinking and Reasoning

PI: Dr. Reginald Golledge (NSF grant# BCS-0239883)
This project aims at addressing basic research on:

  • the ontology of spatial task performance and development of a related concept lexicon that helps build a vocabulary and conceptual superstructure for spatial thinking
  • definitions and measurement of types of spatial reasoning needed for different concept-based problem-solving task scenarios
  • investigating whether spatial thinking at a geographic scale can be used to the same extent in real and virtual worlds


Rick Church, Professor
Helen Couclelis, Professor
Reginald Golledge, Professor and Director
Jack Loomis, Professor, Dept. of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Dan Montello, Professor
Don Parkes, Professor (International Associate)
Waldo Tobler, Professor


José Luis Saleta
Bill Norrington

Comments & questions are encouraged; please send mail to José Luis Saleta