Bryan Reimer: Opening keynote at Auto-UI 2011 in Salzburg

Bryan started his keynote talk the automotive user interface conference (auto-ui.org) in Salzburg with reminding us that having controversial discussions about the HMI in the car is not new. Quoting a newspaper article from the 1930s on the introduction of the radio in the car and its impact on the driver he picked an interesting example, that can be seen as the root of many issues we have now with infotainment systems in the car.

The central question he raised is: how to create user interface that fit human users? He made an important point: humans are not “designed” to drive at high speed in complex environments; perception has evolved for walking and running in natural environment. Additionally to the basic limitations of human cognition, there is a great variety of capabilities of drivers, their skills and cognitive ability (e.g. influence of age). A implication of the global change is demographics is that the average capabilities of a drivers will be reduced – basically as many older people will be drivers…

Over the last 100 years cars have changes significantly! Looking more closely Bryan argues that much of the chance happened in the last 10 years. There has been little change from the 1950s to the 1990s with regard to the car user interface.

It is apparent that secondary tasks are becoming more important to the user. Users will interact more while driving because the can. It is however not obvious that they are capable of it.

Even given these developments it is apparent that driving has become safer. Passive safety has been improved massively and this made driving much safer. There seems to be a drawback to this as well, as people may take greater risks as they feel safer. The next step is really to avoid accidence in the first place. Bryan argues that the interaction between driver, environment, and vehicles is very important in that. He suggests that we should make more of an effort to create systems that fit the drivers.

The Yerkes-Dodson Law helps to understand how to design systems that keep peoples attention in the optimal performance. He made an important point: there are certain issues that cannot be solved, e.g. if someone is tired we can do only very little – the driver will need to rest. We should make sure that we take these things into account when designing systems.

Visual distraction is an obvious factor and much discussed in the papers at the conference – but Bryan argued that “eyes on the road” is not equal to “mind on the road”. I think this is really a very important point. Ensuring that people keep their eyes on the road, seeing things is not enough. The big resulting question is how to keep or get people focused on the street and environment. It seems there is some more research to do…

The variety of interfaces and interaction metaphors build into cars opens more choices but at the same time creates problems, as people need to learn and understand them. A simple question such as: How do you switch the car off? may be hard to answer (Bryan had the example of a car with a push button starter, where you cannot remove the key). I think there are simple questions that can be learned from industry and production machines… add an emergency stop button and make it mandatory 😉

If you are interested more about Bryan’s work look at his webpage or his page at the MIT agelab or one of his recent publications [1] in the IEEE Pervasive Computing Magazine’s special issue on automotive computing, see [2] for an introduction to the special issue.

Sorry for the poor quality photos … back row and an iPhone…

[1] Joseph F. Coughlin, Bryan Reimer, and Bruce Mehler. 2011. Monitoring, Managing, and Motivating Driver Safety and Well-Being. IEEE Pervasive Computing 10, 3 (July 2011), 14-21. DOI=10.1109/MPRV.2011.54 http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MPRV.2011.54

[2] Albrecht Schmidt, Joseph Paradiso, and Brian Noble. 2011. Automotive Pervasive Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing 10, 3 (July 2011), 12-13. DOI=10.1109/MPRV.2011.45 http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MPRV.2011.45

New Power Plug in the Street – charging your e-car

Why would I write a post about a power plug? Perhaps in some years this may be so common that we do not know when the first appeared 😉 And here is my reference point for Essen, Germany.
There is a German news article about these chargeing points – there are 22 in Essen and they started sometime back in Berlin (where they plan to have 500 by the end of the year).

It looks very much like an ordinary power plug and I have not figured out how it really works – e.g. How to pay? How to reserve that parking in front of it? How to make sure that nobody unplugs may car and used my energy to drive a huge stereo? We will probably see how it works over the next months. I will add a new post when I actually see a car recharging there.

new post on the topic:
http://albrecht-schmidt.blogspot.com/2009/08/update-on-e-cars.html

What do people like about navigation system?

I came across this study in computer bild – you should not cite it as it in a scientific paper as “computer bild” – is consumer paper telling people mainly which computers to buy and how to use obvious features in software 😉

Nevertheless it is interesting and gave me some ideas what navigations systems are good for and it is another example that user needs on an abstract level (e.g. as in Maslows hierarchy of needs) could be interesting to inform designs.

If you do not read German here are the results in short:

  • 91% faster to their destination
  • 88% less often being lost
  • 88% feel saver when driving with a SatNav
  • 67% less often in traffic jams
  • 57% driving is more fun
  • 54% argue less in the car because of SatNav

If you want to cite it there is the original german press relese from BITKOM. It states that the study was based on about 500 people who drove themselfs with a navigation system sometime in the last to years. Probably there is a scientific paper with similar results…

Our Publications at Pervasive – Public Displays, Car Adverts, and Tactile Output for Navigation

Our group was involved in 3 papers that are published at Pervasive 2009 in Nara.

The first contribution is a study on public display that was presented by Jörg Müller from Münster. The paper explores display blindness that can be observed in the real world (similarly to banner blindness) and concludes that the extent to which people look at displays is very much correlated to the users expectation of the content of a display in a certain location [1].

The second short paper is a survey on car advertising and has been conducted in the context of the master thesis of Christoph Evers. The central question is about the design space of dynamic advertising on cars and how the users perceive such a technology [2].

Dagmar presented a paper on vibra-tactile output integrated in the steering wheel for navigation systems in cars. The studies explored how multi-modal presentation of information impact driving performance and what modalities are preferred by users. The general conclusion is that combining visual information with vibra-tactile output is the best option and that people prefer multi-modal output over a single modality [3].

[1] Jörg Müller, Dennis Wilmsmann, Juliane Exeler, Markus Buzeck, Albrecht Schmidt, Tim Jay, Antonio Krüger. Display Blindness: The Effect of Expectations on Attention towards Digital Signage. 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing 2009. Nara, Japan. Springer LNCS 5538, pp 1-8.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/gk307213786207g2

[2] Florian Alt, Christoph Evers, Albrecht Schmidt. User’s view on Context-Aware Car Advertisement. 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing 2009. Nara, Japan. Springer LNCS 5538, pp 9-16.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/81q8818683315523

[3] Dagmar Kern, Paul Marshall, Eva Hornecker, Yvonne Rogers, Albrecht Schmidt. Enhancing Navigation Information with tactile Output Embedded into the Steering Wheel. 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing 2009. Nara, Japan. Springer LNCS 5538, pp 42-58.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/x13j7547p8303113

Which way did you fly to Korea?

We got a new USB GPS tracker(from Mobile Action, GT100) and had to try it out on the trip to Korea. It worked very well compared to the other devices we had so far. It got the bus trip in Düsseldorf airport right and the entire flight from Amsterdam to Seoul. Tracking worked well in the taxi from the Airport to the hotel. While walking in downtown Seoul it still performed OK (given the urban canyons) with some outliers.

It did not get any signal while we were on the Fokker-50 from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam 🙁 I slept a few hours on the flight to Seoul but I think someone took a photo (probably of me) over Mongolia… If you wonder if it is allowed to used your GPS in the plane or not – it is – at least with KLM (according to a random website http://gpsinformation.net/airgps/airgps.htm 🙂

Back in Korea, Adverts, Driving and Entertainment

On the way into town we got a really good price for the taxi (just make a mental note never to negotiate something with Florian and Alireza at the same time 😉 It seems taxi driving is sort of boring – he too watched television while driving (like the taxi driver some weeks ago in Amsterdam). I think we should seriously think more about entertainment for micro breaks because I still think it is for a good reason not allowed to watch TV while driving.

Seoul is an amazing place. There are many digital signs and electronic adverts. Walking back to the hotel I saw a large digital display on a rooftop (would guess about 10 meters by 6 meters). If working it is probably nice. But now it is mal functioning and the experience walking down the road is worsened as one inevitably looks at it. I wonder if in 10 years we will be used to broken large screen displays…   

GPS monitoring for car insurance

In my talk at ISUVR2008 I referred to an example where an insurance is monitor driving behavior and makes a tariff according to this. Some people asked me for more details and
references, here they are…

My example was based on the pilot announced from the German insurance WGV. They planned to run a pilot with 1500 people using a GPS based monitoring devices. The box is mounted in the car and compares the current speed with the allowed speed limit and warns to reduce speed (if over the limit). If the driver is more than 12 times per year over the speed limit (basically ignoring the warning) he does not get the reduced rate. (see http://www.wgv-online.de/docs/youngandsafe.pdf – in German only). In the announcement it said they will run the pilot to 2009…

There are different ideas how to take GPS driving monitoring beyond the lab, e.g. in 2007 Royal & SunAlliance announced a GPS-based eco car insurance and the AIG a Teen GPS Program – targeted at parents.

Looking at different comments (on news pages and in blogs) it seems that people’s opinions are very split…

Innovative in-car systems, Taking photos while driving

Wolfgang just sent me another picture (taken by a colleague of him) with more information in the head-up display. It shows a speed of 180 km/h and I wonder who took the picture. Usually only the driver can see such a display 😉

For assistance, information and entertainment systems in cars (an I assume we could consider taking photos an entertainment task) there are guidelines [1, 2, 3] – an overview presentation in German can be found in [4]. Students in the Pervasive Computing class have to look at them and design a new information/assistance system that is context aware – perhaps photography in the car could be a theme… I am already curious about the results of the exercise.

[1] The European Statement of Principles (ESoP) on Human Machine Interface in Automotive Systems
[2] AAM Guidelines
[3] JAMA Japanese Guidelines
[4] Andreas Weimper, Harman International Industries, Neue EU Regelungen für Safety und Driver Distraction

(thanks to Wolfgang Spießl for sending the references to me)