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Assessing the effectiveness of direct gesture interaction for a safety critical maritime application

Bjorneseth, Froy Birte and Dunlop, Mark and Hornecker, Eva (2012) Assessing the effectiveness of direct gesture interaction for a safety critical maritime application. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 70 (10). 729–745. ISSN 1071-5819


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Multi-touch interaction, in particular multi-touch gesture interaction, is widely believed to give a more natural interaction style. We investigated the utility of multi-touch interaction in the safety critical domain of maritime dynamic positioning (DP) vessels. We conducted initial paper prototyping with domain experts to gain an insight into natural gestures; we then conducted observational studies aboard a DP vessel during operational duties and two rounds of formal evaluation of prototypes - the second on a motion platform ship simulator. Despite following a careful user-centred design process, the final results show that traditional touch-screen button and menu interaction was quicker and less erroneous than gestures. Furthermore, the moving environment accentuated this difference and we observed initial use problems and handedness asymmetries on some multi-touch gestures. On the positive side, our results showed that users were able to suspend gestural interaction more naturally, thus improving situational awareness.