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“Haptic Glasses” Could Make Car Navigation Safer, Less Distracting

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do you find your car's navigation system distracting? Do you have to stop talking to your passengers when you’re following GPS instructions? Does your driving sometimes suffer? No surprise. Research has shown that the vocal and visual instructions coming from conventional navigation systems demand the same cognitive attention that ‘s required for driving, increasing the likelihood of cognitive overload.

Human factors/ergonomics researchers have developed an alternative navigation system that uses haptic (touch) communication instead of voice that, along with a visual display shows promise to address the overload issue. In their study, published in the Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 59th Annual Meeting, the authors modified smart-glasses, a wearable navigational device, to test the viability of haptic navigational guidance.

Joseph Szczerba and Roy Mathieu from General Motors Global R&D, and Roger Hersberger from RLH Systems LLC, removed the lenses in the smart-glasses and added vibrating technology. The vibrations indicate which direction a driver should take, and when. The team paired the prototype with a visual display and tested the system on a group of experienced drivers.

Using a driving simulator, each participant drove three city routes using a visual-only, visual-plus-auditory, and visual-plus-haptic navigation system. Szczerba et al. found that effort, mental workload, and overall workload were lowest with the haptic smart-glasses prototype. Drivers didn’t have to listen for voice instructions or take their eyes off the road to look at a visual display. Drivers also preferred the haptic system because it didn’t distract from conversation or audio entertainment.

The results indicate that smart-glasses paired with a visual display may be a viable navigational option, giving drivers accurate directional assistance with less effort.

To receive a copy of “A Wearable Vibrotactile Display for Automotive Route Guidance: Evaluating Usability, Workload, Performance and Preference” for media-reporting purposes, contact HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (310/394-1811; lois@hfes.org).

‚ÄčThe Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is the world’s largest scientific association for human factors/ergonomics professionals, with more than 4,500 members globally. HFES members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, and engineers, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them. “Human Factors and Ergonomics: People-Friendly Design Through Science and Engineering.”