Augmented Reality Pedestrian Collision Warning: An Ecological Approach to Driver Interface Design and Evaluation

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Virginia Tech

Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to fundamentally change the way we interact with information. Direct perception of computer generated graphics atop physical reality can afford hands-free access to contextual information on the fly. However, as users must interact with both digital and physical information simultaneously, yesterday's approaches to interface design may not be sufficient to support the new way of interaction. Furthermore, the impacts of this novel technology on user experience and performance are not yet fully understood.

Driving is one of many promising tasks that can benefit from AR, where conformal graphics strategically placed in the real-world can accurately guide drivers' attention to critical environmental elements. The ultimate purpose of this study is to reduce pedestrian accidents through design of driver interfaces that take advantage of AR head-up displays (HUD). For this purpose, this work aimed to (1) identify information requirements for pedestrian collision warning, (2) design AR driver interfaces, and (3) quantify effects of AR interfaces on driver performance and experience.

Considering the dynamic nature of human-environment interaction in AR-supported driving, we took an ecological approach for interface design and evaluation, appreciating not only the user but also the environment. The requirement analysis examined environmental constraints imposed on the drivers' behavior, interface design translated those behavior-shaping constraints into perceptual forms of interface elements, and usability evaluations utilized naturalistic driving scenarios and tasks for better ecological validity.

A novel AR driver interface for pedestrian collision warning, the virtual shadow, was proposed taking advantage of optical see-through HUDs. A series of usability evaluations in both a driving simulator and on an actual roadway showed that virtual shadow interface outperformed current pedestrian collision warning interfaces in guiding driver attention, increasing situation awareness, and improving task performance. Thus, this work has demonstrated the opportunity of incorporating an ecological approach into user interface design and evaluation for AR driving applications. This research provides both basic and practical contributions in human factors and AR by (1) providing empirical evidence furthering knowledge about driver experience and performance in AR, and, (2) extending traditional usability engineering methods for automotive AR interface design and evaluation.

augmented reality, driver vehicle interface, pedestrian collision warning, situation awareness, head-up display