Augmented Road Screen on Screens Disturbs Driver’s Attention: Study

brainVirtual reality display of the road ahead on your windshield in digital format is not as safe as seeing it for real and driving, warn experts after finding that warning pop-ups actually disturb their attention more than usual.

Unlike the undivided attention on the road to circumvent possible collision that is currently possible, drivers with augmented reality on windscreen have to split their focus on both the screen and on driving. “Drivers need to divide their attention to deal with this added visual information,” said Prof. Ian Spence of the University of Toronto’s psychology department.

The team has designed two tests to study the impact of the twin visual information for a driver with simulated computer tests and ranked the accurate reaction from one to nine.

Spence and his research grads Yuechuan Sun and Sijing Wu asked participants to first complete a series of computer-based trials in which they were given randomly arranged spots on a screen with prompting. In other trials, a secondary stimulus in a black-outlined square was prompted and the participants were asked whether they saw it or not. In some trials, both the spots and randomly chosen shapes such as a triangle, square or diamond in the spots were displayed together.

The results were accurate when the square was not there because their attention was not diverted with the squares. Whenever the square appeared along with a small number of spots, they missed it at the rate of one in 15 times on average. With more spots, the rate too climbed up to one in 10 times. The conclusion is that the more diversion by secondary task stimulus, the less accurate are the drivers and their reaction to it.

Since the real driving not only involved seeing something but making a quick judgement of what it is and then apply a brake or finad a solution requires more undivided attention, they said.

“It would be necessary to distinguish, for example, between warnings of a collision and a recommendation to make a turn. Otherwise competing warnings may be more dangerous than no warning at all,” said Spence. “Observers made both judgements more slowly when the shape appeared among the spots by as much as 200 per cent. The two visual tasks interfered with each other and impaired both reaction speed and accuracy.”

The findings collaborate with the earlier research undertaken by the British researchers who have identified a part of the brain that tells us the exact direction to travel while we navigate through the traffic, thus making some better decisions while driving on busy roads.

They found that the brain’s entorhinal region, is also used to signal the direction in which you need to travel to reach your destination, in other words, the ‘sense of direction’ comes from inside the brain, said Hugo Spiers from University College London (UCL).

In addition they found that the strength of “homing signal” in the human brain vary from person to person and give them ability to predict navigation, that exists in humans since long.

“We now know that the entorhinal cortex is responsible for such calculations and the quality of signals from this region seem to determine how good someone’s navigational skills will be,” Dr Spiers said. If you turn left then your entorhinal region should process this to shift your facing direction and goal direction immediately.

Whenver, drivers miss turns, it means their brain could not keep up and failed to adjust their facing and goal directions.Even mammals have brain cells that signal the direction that they are currently facing, a discovery that formed part of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to UCL professor John O’Keefe.

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