Navigating through a strange city can be stressful. It can also be dangerous, especially if you don’t know where you’re going: nothing makes you look more like a tourist than wandering around squinting at street signs with a map—or even smartphone—in your hands.
The Egg Map by Budapest-based designer Dénes Sátor is a design I’d love to see in every tourism gift shop: a stress ball with a map of the city printed on its sides, allowing tourists to find their way through strange streets without drawing attention to themselves. And when they get stressed out, they can just squeeze.
The map printed on the Egg Map colors each quarter of a city differently, so it’s easy to tell where you are with just a glance. In the case of the prototype, the Egg Map shows off the topography of Budapest, but it could be Paris, Rome, London, New York, and so on. The killer touch on the Egg Map, though, is the unique affordance its form factor allows. By just squeezing the Egg Map, you can “zoom in” on a section of the map, as the displaced air inflates part of the ball. This allows you to read street names more clearly, as well as see local sights like metro stations, tourist attractions, nearby restaurants, and more.
I actually love this idea. I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I long ago made a habit of writing out street directions to places I was trying to go to on a palm-sized notepad. A smartphone in your palm makes you a mugging target in strange cities, as does a larger, fold-out map. The Egg Map has all the advantages of that approach, but with a lot more functionality. I hope this goes from concept to reality: I can easily see this on sale at every museum and airport gift shop.