Increasing the Usability of Audio Alerts with Voice Instructions on Ship’s Bridges
Authors: Felix - Marcel Petermann, Ole Andreas Alsos, Erik Styhr Petersen, Malene Liavaag, Julie Karine Schmidt Solberg
Abstract: The goal of this study was to determine how audio alarms with voice instructions affect the time required for the cause of an alarm message to be recognised by operators on a ship's bridge compared with presently used alarm signals. [Method]Four distinct alert messages with speech cues was created for this study. These were evaluated in a ship simulator where a team of two operator was directing a high-speed catamaran in sheltered waters. At irregular intervals, the operators were presented with four different error messages to which they had to respond. The intervention group (n=12) was given alarm messages with speech cues and conventional alerts with signal tones. All participants performed identical navigation scenarios, and the times required by operators to discover and identify the alarms and correct the problem was measured. In a post-testing interview a subjective estimation of the test participants were collected. [Results]The preliminary findings indicate that a combination of sound and voice commands (1) gives more information about what is wrong, (2) are faster to locate and respond to, (3) have a higher degree of memorability, (4) have a higher degree of user satisfaction, and (5) increases the users situation awareness. The test participants who just received the alarm tones took longer to locate the source of the problem since they had to go around the bridge to discover the precise location because the tones are only distinguishable to a limited extent. Some people were irritated by the auditory tones, while others just disregarded them for a short period of time. Voice instructions were seen to be useful by the test subjects, especially when many warning messages were obtained at the same time, according to their subjective evaluation. The voice commands assist in determining the severity of the problem and its location, as well as determining which issues require immediate attention. [Conclusion]In this study, we compared traditional alerts with the use of augmented alerts with voice instructions in a ship simulator with a crew of nautical students (N = 12) playing out a complex navigation scenario. We found that alerts with voice instructions were easier to learn and understand, and they made it faster and easier to locate the equipment that caused the alert, thus allowing the crew to direct more attention to navigational procedures.
Keywords: Human Factors, Alert Design, Human Machine Interface, situational awareness, Usability
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