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…

New ways for reducing CO2 in Europe? Impact of pedestrian navigation systems

Arriving this morning in Brussels I was surprised by the length of the queue for taxis. Before seeing the number of people I considered taking a taxi to the meeting place as I had some luggage – but doing a quick count on the taxi frequency and the number of people in the line I decided to walk to make it in time. Then I remembered that some months ago I had a similar experience in Florence, when arriving at the airport for CHI. There I calculated the expected waiting time and choose the bus. Reflecting briefly on this it seems that this may be a new scheme to promote eco-friendly travel in cities… or why otherwise would there be not enough taxis in a free market?

Reflecting a little longer I would expect that with upcoming pedestrian navigation systems we may see a switch to more people walking in the city. My hypothesis (based on minimal observation) is that people often take a taxi or public transport as they have no idea where to walk to and how long it would take when walking. If now a pedestrian navigation system can offer reliably a time of arrival estimation (which is probably more precise for walking than for driving as there is less traffic jam) and the direction the motivation to walk may be increased. We should probably put pedestrian navigation systems on our project topic list as there is still open research on this topic…

Reset/reboot is ubiquitous – or my worst train ride so far

What have learned to do when our computer or phone does not work anymore? Easy just reboot it. A colleague recently told me his rental car broke down (basically did not work anymore) but after resetting it, it worked fine again. When he told me I found this pretty strange – ok the radio or opening the car boot – but essential functions related to driving?

Today I was travelling on an ICE high-speed train to Amsterdam for the CHI-Notes committee meeting and shortly after we left Germany the train lost speed and became slower and just rolled out. Then can an interesting announcement: “Sorry it seems we do not get power anymore – but we think it is not a big problem. We reset the train and then we are on our way again”. The reboot did not work 🙁 so they told us we needed to another engine. Perhaps there was more to reboot (e.g. the train power grid nation wide?)…

Extrapolating in the future I can imagine a lot of things we will need to reboot, e.g. your shoes, your furniture, your house, your augmented sense, and your implants – or should we take more care in developing things?

At some point they decided we can not wait on the train and we had to get off the train outside the station (using small ladder) while it was pouring with rain. The left us than waiting for 2 hours (in the rain) – basically till we found ourselves another means of transport (overall delay about 5 hours). This made me realize that a Nokia N95 with GPS is probably really good while travelling – if I would have had it with me I could have called a taxi to where I was 😉

More about train rides… Some more traditional technologies however work very well – this week I was already once stuck on a train were a passenger pulled the emergency train and went of the train – somewhere in the middle of nowhere…

Navigation by calories – New insights useful for next generation navigation systems?

In a German science news ticker I saw an article a inspiring post reporting an experiment on orientation in relation to food. It describes an experiment where men and women were asked to visit a set of market stalls to taste food and afterwards they are asked where the stall was.

The to me surprising result was that women performed better than men (which is to my knowledge not often the case in typical orientation experiments) and that independent of gender the amount of calories that are contained in the tasted food influenced the performance. Basically if there are more calories in the tasted food people could remember better where it was. I have had no change yet to read the original paper (Joshua New, Max M. Krasnow, Danielle Truxaw und Steven J.C. Gaulin. Spatial adaptations for plant foraging: women excel and calories count, August 2007, Royal society publishing, http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk) and my assessment is only based on the post in the newsticker.

This makes me think about future navigation systems and in particular landmark based navigation. What landmarks are appropriate to use (e.g. places where you get rich food) and how much this is gender dependent (e.g. the route for men is explained by car-dealers and computer shops whereas for women by references to shoe shops – is this political correct?).

Apropos: landmark based navigation. There is an interesting short paper that was at last years UIST conference that looks into this issue in the context of personalized routes:
Patel, K., Chen, M. Y., Smith,
I., and Landay, J. A. 2006. Personalizing routes. In Proceedings of the 19th Annual ACM Symposium on User interface Software and Technology (Montreux, Switzerland, October 15 – 18, 2006). UIST ’06. ACM Press, New York, NY, 187-190. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1166253.1166282

Perhaps this ideas could be useful for a future navigation system…