"You can't look at two things at the same time," says Strayer. "You can't look at graphic display of where you should go and look out the windshield. It [touch-based information] is a nicer way to communicate with the driver without interfering with the basic information they typically need to drive safely. They need to look out the window to drive safely. They need to listen to the noise of traffic sirens, horns and other vehicles. This tactile device provides information to the driver without taking their attention away from seeing and hearing information they need to be a safe driver."
The new study says automakers already use some tactile systems to warn of lane departures by drowsy drivers and monitor blind spots. But these devices generally twist the steering wheel (assisted steering), rather than simply prompting the driver to do so.
Drivers on Cell Phones Often Don't Hear Directions, but Can Feel Them
The study was conducted on a driving simulator that Strayer has used to demonstrate the hazards of driving while talking or texting on a cell phone. Two of Provancher's devices to convey information by touch were attached to the simulator's steering wheel so one came in contact with the index finger on each of the driver's hands.
During driving, each index fingertip rested on a red TrackPoint cap from an IBM ThinkPad computer those little things that look like the eraser on the end of a pencil. When the drivers were supposed to turn left, the two touch devices gently stretched the skin of the fingertips to the left (counter clockwise); when a right turn was directed, the TrackPoint tugged the skin of the fingertips to the right (clockwise).
Nineteen University of Utah undergraduate students six women and 13 men participated in th
|Contact: Lee J. Siegel|
University of Utah