AR Windscreen Navigation Aids

Augmented Reality (AR) technology is increasingly used in cars to display driving-related information. A common implementation is using the windshield itself to display text and images.

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AR technology in cars is believed to be extremely promising in terms of improving safety. This is mainly because it helps to represent driving-related information within the driver's field of view, and reduces the need to look away from the road.

 

Current designs of AR interfaces primarily involve icons on the windshield that notify the driver of the vehicle's speed, an upcoming turn, road sign, or different kinds of traffic situations. However, there is relatively less work on representing detailed navigation information on AR interfaces in cars. 

THE CHALLENGE

Our project goal was to design an AR interface to help drivers navigate more efficiently. Also, we primarily targeted the use of landmarks in AR interfaces. This is because landmarks are very strong wayfinding cues, and research has found that people prefer directions based on landmarks. 

We proposed that highlighting landmarks on the windshield of a car would be an effective add-on to current AR designs, with high user acceptance and appeal.

My contribution to this project was conducting the literature review that inspired the use of landmarks, experimental designuser interviews, and qualitative data analysis to find user needs and requirements. I was also involved to a lesser degree in the initial conceptual design of the interface prototype.

 

My teammates were instrumental in making the prototype, report-writing, generating interview questions, and note-taking during interviews.

THE TEAM

Dr. Joe Gabbard (Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering-ISE))

Vineeth KE (ISE)

Siddharth Narayanan (Computer Engineering)

Satyajit Upasani (ISE)

THE PROCESS

1) Data-Collection

Literature Review

Interviews

2) Analysis and Synthesis

Affinity Diagram

3) Design

Ideation and Sketching

Storyboarding

Design Charrette​

4) Evaluation

Driving Simulator Study

Wizard of Oz Technique

Think-Aloud Protocol

1) Data Collection

To identify our design problem, we conducted a literature review of current automotive technologies, and driving-related challenges. We came across a research paper titled "'Turn right at the Traffic Lights': The Requirement for Landmarks in Vehicle Navigation Systems" (Gary Burnett, University of Nottingham), that described how landmarks are especially useful to navigate in unfamiliar environments. This paper and a few of its follow-up projects inspired us to choose landmark-based navigation as our design problem.

The next step was to interview potential users. The purpose of these interviews was to elicit responses from users that would establish the need for an AR landmark-based GPS interface. 

We targeted Uber and UPS drivers, because road navigation is a core component of their daily work, and we also spoke to out-of-town students. Our questions targeted their navigation behavior and associated challenges, their searching strategies, and their perceived shortcomings in current GPS interfaces.

Key insights:

-In unknown neighborhoods, drivers often tried to form mental maps by thinking in terms of 'nodes', and remembering salient objects in their environment such as street names and house numbers.

-During pick-ups, Uber drivers often found it difficult to identify who their customers were, and where they were waiting. In that case, they had to communicate with the customer and agree on a pick-up point.

-Distance-based instructions in current GPS systems such as 'In a quarter-mile, turn right..', are not as effective while navigating complex road networks with a large number of crossing streets.

-Turn-based instructions that include street names are not always helpful, as street signs are often obscure and not immediately noticeable.

 

The interviews offered subtle hints regarding the benefits of incorporating landmarks in navigation interfaces. Some of the interviewees suggested that landmarks and traffic lights should be highlighted on current interfaces.

However, none of the users mentioned or suggested augmented-reality as a potential implementation. Thus, we concluded that prototyping and testing a novel AR-based interface was important, and would offer valuable insights.

2) Analysis and Synthesis

We generated an affinity diagram based on the data gathered from the interviews. The notes were color-coded based on the interviewee's profession, and grouped based on their challenges with navigation and current interfaces.

3) Design

At this point, we had concluded that a landmark-based AR interface would provide potential benefits, but we did not have a concrete design to prototype and evaluate.

Thus, our next step was to sketch and brainstorm ideas, keeping in mind user-reported issues.

Picture for representational purposes only

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