Effects of display type, age, and gender on driving performance and simulator-induced sickness in a medium-fidelity driving simulator
This study investigated the link between age and gender susceptibility to simulator-induced sickness in conjunction with display type. Simulator-induced sickness and ataxia were measured before and after exposure to a medium-fidelity driving simulator. Participants in four age and gender categories (older and younger males and females) operated the simulator with a consumer-grade head-mounted display (HMD), and then with a large screen, direct-view plasma display.
This study set out to recommend a particular display type that would be appropriate for use with particular age/gender groups in a general-purpose driving simulator. Unfortunately, practice effects affected the simulator-induced sickness and driving performance results for display type, which precludes making recommendations regarding the appropriate use of each display. Despite this, several important discoveries were made, including: 1) older participants did experience significantly increased simulator-induced sickness discomfort than the younger participants - regardless of display type; and 2) there was no significant difference found between genders in either simulator-induced sickness or driving performance; although females generally expressed a subjective preference for the direct-view display.
Display type was not found to affect the degree of ataxia experienced by participants; however, this study did find that although older participants exhibited significantly higher rates of simulator-induced sickness discomfort than the younger participants, they recovered their postural equilibrium significantly faster. This indicates that the older participants had greater difficulty adapting to the simulation environment than younger persons. It also suggests that younger persons are at greater risk during immediate post-simulation activities such as driving. Although it is likely that this effect would disappear over time, it has implications for agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles or drivers education schools that are considering the use of a driving simulator device before an on-road skills test.