Effectiveness of Vibrotactile and Spatial Audio Directional Cues for USAF Pararescue Jumpers (PJs)
Authors: J. Christopher Brill, Veronica E. Scerra
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relative effectiveness of vibrotactile and 3-dimensional (3D) auditory cues. The vibrotactile display consisted of a belt of stimulators worn around the abdomen, and the 3D audio display consisted of synthesized binaural cues played through headphones. Seven participants were presented with two types of vibrotactile signals and four types of 3D audio signals in eight azimuthal directions: 0° (ventral midline), 45° left/right, 90° left/right, 135° left/right, and 180° (dorsal midline). Participants indicated the perceived direction by clicking on discrete virtual response buttons surrounding an isomorphic on-screen graphic. On average, localization accuracy was significantly better for vibrotactile signals (92%) than for 3D audio signals (65%) ( p= .004). One type of 3D audio signal, dubbed the alternate clicktrain, failed to yield a significant difference (p = .08), though this is likely due to the small sample size. The results suggest vibrotactile displays may provide a viable alternative to 3D audio for spatial cueing, which has implications for developing potential system for US Air Force Pararescue Jumpers (PJs).
Keywords: spatial audio, vibrotactile, navigation, spatial orientation, situation awareness
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