New AI compass lets you "wander without getting lost"

Hand holding AI compass
The new design combines AI technology and GPS for whimsical walking with confidence (Image credit: Modem Works)

A new compass designed to let you "wander without getting lost" has been unveiled this week, combining cutting-edge technology with GPS. The TERRA compass is a screenless device that allows you to input your intentions and time constraints, then guides you on a journey.

Designed by Amsterdam-based tech company Modem Works and Swiss design agency Panter & Tourron, the TERRA is pocket-sized and designed to let you explore new trails without having to preplan routes or spend time staring at a navigation app your phone screen. According to the product page, you input the desired duration of your walk, location and any other specifics such as a stop at a cafe or any landmarks you want to take in on your walk. AI then translates your intentions and precise location into a "tailored trail of GPS coordinates."

When you begin walking, you can carry the device in your hand and it will issue prompts via what the designers call "gentle haptic feedback" – presumably a soft vibration, which prompts you to look at the compass needle for navigation. The result, according to the innovators behind the idea, allows for whimsical walking with confidence.

couple using map together on sunny day

The examples given for walking trails on the product page revolve around urban hiking (Image credit: nd3000)

The examples given for walking trails on the product page revolve around urban hiking, such as Amsterdam's canals or Kyoto's architecture, so it's not clear how reliable the compass would be in the backcountry where you might have to contend with topographical obstacles like river crossings or steep cliffs, which have caused problems for other hikers using technology like Google Maps.

Furthermore, if you are keen to get your hands on the TERRA, as of right now, you can't just click to buy one yet – instead, this is an open source design, where the creators have made the code available and specify the hardware you need to build your own. If you're not that tech savvy, we don't imagine it will be long before these are available to buy, but if you're going into the wild, we always recommend bringing a map and compass as backup.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.