Stone-shaped digital compass concept promises an adventure with each walk

Compasses are designed to give you your bearing, but they don’t exactly tell you where you’re headed. With today’s digital maps and navigation apps, that’s pretty much easy peasy, removing any stress from trying to find your way to your destination. At the same time, however, these modern conveniences also remove some of the adventurous feelings and the joy of discovery when wandering about before you reach your actual stop. That kind of whimsical and often serendipitous experiences are almost all but lost, especially with smartphones serving all information on a silver platter or always calling our attention with its incessant notifications. This modern and unconventional compass design wants to remedy that and bring back the joy of an aimless exploration by removing all unnecessary distractions so that you can be more present in your surroundings.

Designer: Modem Works x Panter & Tourron

They say that if you don’t have a destination in mind, any road will take you there, and while that adage is often used as a warning, it neglects to mention the wondrous discoveries you might encounter off the beaten path. After all, not all who wander are lost, as the popular quote goes, but also losing your bearings and your way can be a frightening thought. You could use your phone, but you could also be tempted to just go directly to your destination or, worse, never get there because of all the pings from social media that are begging for your attention.

Terra is a device that modernizes the age-old compass without turning it into a complicated device like a smartphone. There is no screen, at least not an obvious one, just a hidden monochrome display that lights up with symbols and sigils that will mark your adventure. Yes, it will show you your direction, but it won’t mark your destination. Instead, it encourages you to actually get your destination off your mind and take a different path instead.

The idea is that you will input your location and how much time you have available and the device’s AI will guide you along a set of GPS coordinates to accompany you on your adventure. But instead of screens and beeps, it uses gentle haptic feedback and artistic iconography to nudge our attention to little discoveries along the way, be it a kind mushroom or a flower you might have never seen before. And yes, it actually functions as a compass so you won’t get lost by accident.

Terra’s cross-like form seems to be a reference to the four cardinal directions, but its rough, organic shape is more reminiscent of a stone or pebble you’re likely to pick up along your walks. The design, however, is open to various other shapes that will hopefully remind you of the treasury of wildlife waiting to be discovered along your more adventurous excursions.