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GUI Transportation Technology

Are Sat-Nav Systems Becoming Information Overload? 186

curtS writes "The Economist's tech editor reviews the ever-more-detailed assistance of mobile GPS devices, and wonders if the attention-sucking visual complexity isn't more trouble than it's worth. He contrasts the simplicity of London's Underground map (not directionally accurate but visually easy to understand) and his own habit of dimming the display and using the audio commands for guidance."
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Are Sat-Nav Systems Becoming Information Overload?

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:52PM (#30423668) Journal
    The problem isn't struggling with the GPS(at least not in the sense of "Oh noes, the UI is just too hard!). The question is whether or not the GPS UI is distracting the driver's attention enough to make them especially vulnerable to doing stupid(which in a car means dangerous) things.

    Research consistently demonstrates that humans suck at multitasking. Worse, they suck at multitasking to a much greater degree than they think they do. If interpreting a poorly designed GPS UI while also driving counts as multitasking, it is probably a dangerous distraction. If the GPS UI is well designed, it could presumably function as just another subtle environmental cue, something that humans are very good at interpreting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:11PM (#30423814)

    Personally, I use the accurate maps on a GPS device to resolve ambiguities in the directions. This is especially true in the case of unusual ramp systems on the highway.

  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:33PM (#30423946)
    Generally, a bed is waiting for me in the destination area, and I would like to get some sleep before the morning meeting rather than spend the night driving around the one-way street system in some foreign city.
  • by awyeah ( 70462 ) * on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:43PM (#30424002)

    My TomTom unit actually has some safety options where you can have the unit not display the realtime map - instead, it just shows a graphical representation of the next instruction (for example, a line that corners right to signify a right turn), the distance to that instruction, and the street name. I think that's really a pretty useful feature. I have it set up so that it does that whenever I'm going more than 50mph.

  • or the number of times the driver gets into the wrong lane becuase they don't really understand what the words and numbers are actually telling them to do? T

    Having used a satnav with a rental recently, I have to say... it's really hard to misunderstand "Turn left in 120 feet" "Turn left in 50 feet" "Turn left". I used the display, but really only in looking "ahead" to see what was coming up in a mile or two. If a driver doesn't understand how the localized unit of measurement is relevant to actual distance, they shouldn't be driving with or without satnav.

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