Effects of Chemical Protective Clothing on Task Performance using Wearable Input Devices
Krausman, Andrea S.
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Wearable computers allow users the freedom to work in any environment including hazardous environments that may require protective clothing. Past research has shown that protective clothing interferes with manual materials handling tasks, medical tasks, and manual dexterity tasks. However, little information exists regarding how protective clothing affects task performance with wearable input devices. As a result, a study was conducted to address this issue and offer recommendations to enhance the compatibility of chemical protective clothing and wearable input devices. Sixteen active-duty soldiers performed a text-entry task with a wearable mouse and touch pad, while bare handed, wearing 7-mil, 14-mil, and 25-mil chemical protective gloves, wearing a respirator alone, and wearing the respirator and each of three gloves. Upon completion of the experiment, participants rated task difficulty, confidence using the input device, and input device preference. Task completion times were 9% slower with the 25-mil glove than the 7-mil glove. Text entry was not perceived as difficult when bare handed, or wearing the 7-mil and 14-mil gloves, suggesting that thin chemical protective gloves (i.e. 7-mil and 14-mil) are more suitable than thicker gloves for use with wearable input devices. When using the touch pad, task completion times were 17% faster than when using the mouse. Subjective ratings of difficulty, confidence, and preference provide strong support for the use of a touch pad input device rather than a mouse.
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