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Assessing the effectiveness of multi-touch interfaces for DP operation

Bjorneseth, F. B. and Dunlop, M. D. and Hornecker, E. (2010) Assessing the effectiveness of multi-touch interfaces for DP operation. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Performance At Sea (HPAS), Glasgow 2010. UNSPECIFIED. ISBN 9780947649739

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Navigating a vessel using dynamic positioning (DP) systems close to offshore installations is a challenge. The operator's only possibility of manipulating the system is through its interface, which can be categorized as the physical appearance of the equipment and the visualization of the system. Are there possibilities of interaction between the operator and the system that can reduce strain and cognitive load during DP operations? Can parts of the system (e.g. displays) be physically brought closer to the user to enhance the feeling of control when operating the system? Can these changes make DP operations more efficient and safe? These questions inspired this research project, which investigates the use of multi-touch and hand gestures known from consumer products to directly manipulate the visualization of a vessel in the 3D scene of a DP system. Usability methodologies and evaluation techniques that are widely used in consumer market research were used to investigate how these interaction techniques, which are new to the maritime domain, could make interaction with the DP system more efficient and transparent both during standard and safety-critical operations. After investigating which gestures felt natural to use by running user tests with a paper prototype, the gestures were implemented into a Rolls-Royce DP system and tested in a static environment. The results showed that the test participants performed significantly faster using direct gesture manipulation compared to using traditional button/menu interaction. To support the results from these tests, further tests were carried out. The purpose is to investigate how gestures are performed in a moving environment, using a motion platform to simulate rough sea conditions. The key results and lessons learned from a collection of four user experiments, together with a discussion of the choice of evaluation techniques will be discussed in this paper.