VibroTactile “On-Thigh” Alerting System in The Cockpit

Here is a new study that we have conducted on applying vibrotactile alerts on the thigh of a seated operator. The thigh is a novel placement that has not been used previously in a similar way.

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To read more see: Salzer, Y., Oron-Gilad, T., Ronen, A., and Parmet, Y. (2011), VibroTactile “On-Thigh” Alerting System in The Cockpit, Human Factors. available online at :http://hfs.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/04/06/0018720811403139

Background: Alerts in the cockpit must be robust, difficult to ignore and easily recognized. Tactile alerts can provide means to direct the pilot’s attention in the already visual-auditory overloaded cockpit environment. Objective: This research examined the thigh as a placement for vibrotactile display in the cockpit. Here we: a) report initial findings concerning the loci and properties of the display, b) evaluate the added value of tactile cueing with respect to the existing audio-visual alerting system, and c) address the issue of tactile orienting; whether the cue should display ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ orienting. The tactor display prototype was developed by a joint venture of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Lahav division and the Ben Gurion University of the Negev (patent pending 11/968,405). Methods: Vibrotactile display mounted on the thigh provided directional cues in the vertical plane. Two vibrotactile display modes (eight and four tactors) and two response modes (compatible, i.e. flight (away from hazard) and inverse, i.e. fight (toward hazard)) were evaluated. Results: Vertical directional orienting can be achieved by a vibrotactile display assembled on the thigh. Four tactors display mode and the compatible response mode produced more accurate results. Conclusion: Tactile cues can provide directional orienting in the vertical plane. The benefit of adding compatible tactile cues with the visual and auditory cues alone has yet to be reinforced. Nevertheless, flight mode, i.e. directing towards escape from hazardous situations, was preferred. Application: Potential applications include providing directional collision alerts within the vertical plane, assisting pilot’s elevation control, or navigation.

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