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Automobile UX: Emerging Infotainment Systems and In-Car Apps From a User Experience Perspective


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This paper not only divulges this bourgeoning in-car infotainment industry, but also conveys its inherent challenges and complexities, particularly for user experience. Through an assessment of multi-disciplinary discourse on cognitive load in high-risk context of use, and a collection of design and usability theory and practice, insights are gained that inform and inspire the wider adoption of in-car infotainment systems as viable and compelling platforms in user experience.

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Automobile UX: Emerging Infotainment Systems and In-Car Apps From a User Experience Perspective

  1. 1. Emerging Infotainment Systems and In-Car Apps From a User Experience Perspective Kingston University, UXD: Digital Media Final Project K1350078 Robert Gardner-Sharp
  2. 2.   2 Contents Abstract.................................................................................. 3 Introduction .................................................................................................. 4 1.1 Evolution of In-Car Interfaces.................................................................. 4 1.2 Smartphones and Apps ........................................................................... 6 1.3 Current Market ........................................................................................ 7 1.4 User Experience Industry......................................................................... 8 ‘Smart’ Connected Cars ............................................................................. 9 2.1 The Internet of Things ............................................................................ 9 2.2 A Multi-Device Ecosystem..................................................................... 10 Safety and Infotainment ..........................................................................11 3.1 Distraction and Cognitive Load ............................................................. 11 3.2 Disparate Infotainment Systems ........................................................... 14 3.3 Tesla to Navdy ...................................................................................... 16 3.4 Safety Limitations ................................................................................. 18 Design and Evaluation ..............................................................................19 4.1 Guidelines .............................................................................................. 19 4.2 Factors and Measures ........................................................................... 25 Discussion....................................................................................................29 References...................................................................................................31
  3. 3.   3 Applications (apps) are becoming evermore ubiquitous. Their diverse and dynamic services and features are proving essential to how people are connecting to, and experiencing, the world around them. The expectation and demand from users to access apps and have a connected digital experience has seen apps rapidly spreading beyond handheld devices into wearable tech, smart homes and automobiles; arguably “the ultimate mobile device of all” (AT&T 2014). With existing in-car infotainment systems from the likes of Ford, GM Motors and BMW, and the launch of Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, this new platform is increasingly attracting a wealth of companies looking to ensure their digital presence in users’ cars. As we move towards seamless experiences across multiple, connected devices, companies will need to ensure their apps are optimised to car interfaces and offering a tailored and safe experience for drivers. This paper not only divulges this bourgeoning in-car infotainment industry, but also conveys its inherent challenges and complexities, particularly for user experience. Through an assessment of multi-disciplinary discourse on cognitive load in high-risk context of use, and a collection of design and usability theory and practice, insights are gained that inform and inspire the wider adoption of in-car infotainment systems as viable and compelling platforms in user experience. Abstract  
  4. 4.   4   The 80’s saw fictional, conceptual and novel car interfaces capturing the imaginations of the public. In 1982 the TV series Knight Rider portrayed artificial car intelligence in the form of a Pontiac Trans Am called ‘KITT’ with a digital dashboard, in-built video screens and make-believe voice recognition, and in 1985 Etak, Inc., launched their Electronic Navigation System (Shuldiner 1985: 65) (Figure 1); one of the world’s first publicly available in-car digital maps that was displayed on a 4½-inch green vector monitor and programed with cassette tapes (Parkinson and Spilker 1996: 294). However, it would be two decades later that in-car interfaces would eventually see widespread commercial success. With advancements in technology, significantly lower manufacturing costs and access to high precision Global Positioning System (GPS) signals, which were only made fully available for US civilian use after the Clinton Administration lifted military GPS “Selective Availability” in 2000 (Sadeh 2002: 275), portable devices offering touchscreen GPS navigation from the likes of TomTom, Garmin and Navman became prodigious performers of the in-car technology market on an international scale (Mintel 2009) (Figure 2). Emerging at this time were other more niche, and what was then considered somewhat novel, portable/ aftermarket multimedia ‘car stereo’ systems offering features such as video and MP3 playback, DVD drives, Bluetooth, and GPS Navigation services on widescreen LCD monitors (Figure 3). Furthermore, a limited number of luxury vehicles also entered the market with factory in-built infotainment systems that included GPS Navigation. 1. Introduction Evolution of In-Car Interfaces Figure 1. Etak, Inc., Electronic Navigation System
  5. 5.   5 Figure 3. A 2003 Rosen Necvox portable/aftermarket system installed into the dashboard stereo port with features including DVD and TV viewing Figure 2. Example of a portable GPS Navigation device positioned on the main window
  6. 6.   6 Smartphones and Apps The smartphone revolution offered high computing capability and “all the power of being connected to the internet in the palm of one’s hand” (Rollins and Sandberg 2013: 2). In 2007 Apple released their iPhone and iTunes app store and by 2010 the mobile industry was seeing a rapid “rise of smartphones, apps and the mobile web… with the majority of smartphone owners (62%) having downloaded apps on their devices” (Nielsen 2011). Arguably “the ultimate convergence device” (Hayden and Webster 2014: 1), smartphones offer built-in capabilities of camera, connectedness and geolocation for apps to utilise (Allen et al., 2010: 3). Not only did car sat-nav apps on smartphones pose a great challenge to the portable GPS Navigation market (Mintel 2009) but the new paradigm of ubiquitous computing and increasing demand for seamless connectivity has also meant ‘car inhabitants’ expect to be able to “entertain themselves and communicate with the world outside, [with] all useful and interesting information flow[ing] fluently… without distracting him/her from the primary driving task” (Damiani et al., 2009: 95). In response to the market, Nokia released Car Mode in 2011; “the world’s first in-car infotainment solution based on MirrorLink™” (Nokia 2011). The technology transforms smartphones into automobile operating systems enabling drivers to interact with their smartphone and apps while driving. Through utilising the in-car infotainment interface and/or the car’s dashboard and steering wheel controls, MirrorLink gives users safer “access to their smartphone apps while driving, allowing them to be connected and responsible at the same time” (MirrorLink 2014) (Figure 4). This collaborative project between Nokia Research Center and the Consumer Electronics for Automotive (CE4A) led to the formation of the Car Connectivity Consortium; an initiative bridging leading car manufacturers and mobile phone makers in the development of global standards for phone-centric car connectivity solutions (O’Donnell 2012). Figure 4. MirrorLink with a Nokia 701 being plugged into an Alpine head unit
  7. 7.   7 Current Market Juniper Research’s latest report anticipates widespread adoption of in-car apps over the next five years with “revenues from consumer and commercial telematics reach[ing] just short of $20 billion by the end of the forecast period in 2018” (Juniper 2014). Alongside the continued success of MirrorLink, currently supported by many of the latest vehicles and smartphones (including Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Skoda, Volkswagen, Toyota, and HTC, Samsung, Sony, and Nokia), 2014 has seen both Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android launching their own in-car solutions (CarPlay and AndroidAuto respectively) that exclusively synchronise their smartphones with compatible infotainment systems. Smartphone users comprise 62% of the UK adult population (Ofcom 2014) with 61.1% of consumers using Google’s Android OS followed by 27.1% using Apple’s iOS (Kantar 2014), so, the introduction of Android Auto and CarPlay (Figure 5) is set to significantly help drive the momentum of the in-car apps market (Tode 2014). Although both economical and luxury car manufacturers have been offering in-built infotainment systems for the better part of a decade, in 2012 the headline ‘Automakers Rush to Offer Apps in Cars’ appeared in USA Today highlighting the need for automakers to “fill a gap in their customers’ electronic lives” (Woodyard 2012). The past few years have since seen several car manufacturers offering a diverse library of apps directly through their in-built systems “similar to what consumers have come to expect from their smartphones” (Thibaut 2013): Toyota’s in-car infotainment system Entune offers access to popular services such as Pandora, Yelp, OpenTable and, and Nissan’s in-car infotainment system NissanConnect includes Facebook, Google and iHeartRadio apps. Figure 5. Driving while connected to Apple CarPlay
  8. 8.   8 User Experience Industry The rise of in-car infotainment systems and apps ensues a multitude of companies looking to ensure their digital presence in users’ cars. Prospective clients will be turning to the user experience industry as they endeavour to produce apps that are optimised for in-car interfaces with tailored experiences for drivers. Furthermore, proposed in-car apps require certification from the car manufacturers or in-car solution providers (e.g. MirrorLink via the Car Connectivity Consortium) before they are made accessible to drivers, therefore, it is essential that specialist usability testing be carried out prior to submission. Aside from specialist agencies, such as Testronic Laboratories, Belguim, user experience professionals seeking to work on in-car apps and infotainment services will need to consider alternative or adapted approaches, methods and practices to accommodate this new platform and its complex context of use. This paper will provide insights into in-car infotainment systems to encourage the adoption of automobile ux services. Through reference to academic literature, scientific studies and experiments, presentations, and theory, this paper conveys various innovations, issues, solutions, guidelines, and measures essential to the automobile infotainment industry.
  9. 9.   9   The projected ‘Internet of Things’ sees ubiquitous internet and everyday devices, equipped with sensors and connectivity, working together and operating automatically in response to context, environment and what we are doing (Duncan 2014). In facilitating a seamless, digitally-connected future, the Internet of Things is transforming the way we interact with machines and technology and the way they interact with each other. Such ‘smart’ ‘things’ are already permeating our everyday lives; the LG Smart ThinQ Refrigerator notifies you, on its 8-inch display and/or smartphone app, when food has run out or gone off and instantly connects to an online shopping basket, while the Nest thermostat, that allows people to check and adjust home temperature settings from their smartphone, can even learn the homeowner’s routines to adjust temperatures around the home automatically. Although many in-car GPS Navigation services offer live traffic updates while driving, the Internet of Things vision would go a step further and, for example, have the driver’s car automatically email their boss that they are stuck in traffic on a motorway (Carter 2012). The progression towards an Internet of Things will undoubtedly inspire the development of innovative in-car apps that are utilising the car’s ‘big data’ and are connected to, and communicating with, multiple devices in a wide network. Designers are led to taking a wider view of the whole system in its entirety, looking at “how different parts on the system interrelate, and especially how the user features in that interaction” (McEwan and Cassimally 2013: 22). 2. ‘Smart’ Connected Cars The Internet of Things Figure 6. Imagined connectivity  
  10. 10.   10 A Multi-Device Ecosystem Being in the midst of an important behavioural shift to a multi-device model, it is essential that we recognise that connected devices can form a multi-device experience as a connected group as opposed to being just a set of silo devices. Experiences should focus on how the set of connected devices can best serve users’ needs as they move between activities and contexts throughout the day in order to create natural, fluid, multi-device experiences that allow for dynamic changes. Levin (2014) promotes adopting a holistic ecosystem experience that can employ any, or a combination, of three design approaches: 1. Consistent design; replicating the basic experience across the different devices, porting the same content and core features in a like manner [and reflecting brand identity]. 2. Continuous design; where the user experience shifts/flows between devices accompanying the user in their set of activities, within different contexts, en route to their information or entertainment goal. 3. Complementary design; when multiple devices interact as an ensemble, which together create a complete experience. (Levin 2014: 21) Anticipating the implications of an Internet of Things and appreciating the wider ecosystem of an in-car app is of great importance and benefit during the design lifecycle of an in-car app. However, what must always take precedence above all else is the design of an in-car app to be appropriate and safe for drivers to use (while driving or not). Through fostering an ‘ecosystem,’ designers should “capture the dynamically changing needs and contexts that accompany shifting devices, putting the emphasis on delivering the right thing at the right place at the right time” (Levin 2014: 3) and in the ‘right way’.
  11. 11.   11 1 In 2012 a survey by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in the US found that 94% of drivers considered texting while driving “a serious threat” with 87% favouring texting bans, however, more than a third admitted reading a text or e-mail while driving in the past month and 70% reported talking on their mobiles while driving (O’Donnell 2012). While there has been a plethora of research into the dangers of mobile usage while driving (Figure 7), there is still wide debate over the use of in-car infotainment systems and particularly smartphone synchronised solutions. Rennecker and Halgren’s (2014) talk ‘Designing Healthcare Technologies: Motivating Users by Decreasing Cognitive Load’ at the UXPA14 conference highlighted UX issues for medical professionals working in a complex, precarious context. What was most fascinating were the similarities made with the car environment for drivers. In both contexts the risks of errors are high due to frequent interruptions, multi-tasking, high-risk tasks and competing demands all of which impact heavily on cognitive load; the amount of mental resources required to operate a system. Rennecker and Halgren presented the three types of human cognitive load commonly referred to in cognitive load theory in relation to healthcare: intrinsic load, extrinsic load and germane load (Figure 8). There are three types of distraction while driving; visual - looking away from the road, manual - reaching out for something instead of keeping hands not on the steering wheel and/or cognitive - lack of mental focus on the information critical to safe driving. A study into ‘Visual Attention in Driving: The Effects of Cognitive Load and Visual Disruption’ Lee et al., (2007) observed that cognitive load and short glances away from the road are “additive in their tendency to increase the likelihood of drivers missing safety-critical events” (2007: 731). 3. Safety and Infotainment Distraction and Cognitive Load Figure 7. Extreme example of a taxi dashboard, China   2
  12. 12.   12 The study states that even devices that do not require glances away from the road, such as voice controlled systems, can nevertheless “impose a cognitive load that may interfere with driving performance” (2007: 721). Furthermore, drivers’ awareness of the dangers are imperfect, potentially leading to them underestimating the consequence of seemingly inconsequential distractions, therefore, Lee et al., concludes that “drivers may benefit from feedback regarding how in-vehicle information systems undermine visual attention” (2007 :732). Published at the time of writing, the most recent research into in-car infotainment systems from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, by Strayer et al., (2014), assesses cognitive distraction associated with performing voice- based interactions while driving. Through excluding driver visual and manual requirements in the experimental design, the researchers could hypothesise “any impairment to driving must be caused by the diversion of attention from the task of operating the motor vehicle” (2014: 2). Using a combination of performance indices, three experiments were carried out, each testing nine tasks (Figure 9), to produce ‘cognitive workload’ measures on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being low distraction and 5 being comparable to complex maths problems and word memorisation). Figure 8. 3 Kinds of Cognitive Load (Rennecker and Halgren 2014)
  13. 13.   13 Results were positive for short, simple (Wizard-of-Oz) voice commands; scoring 1.88 on the cognitive workload scale “close to listening to an audio-book (Strayer et al., 2013)” (Strayer et al., 2014: 22). However, voice-based interactions overall were deemed to create “significant impairments to driving” (2014: 25) with certain interactions exerting dangerously high levels of driver cognitive load, particularly when frustrating usability issues and erroneous commands occurred. Controversially, out of seven systems tested, the study revealed Apple CarPlay produced the highest cognitive workload scale for drivers, with the “the lowest rating of intuitiveness and the highest rating of complexity” (2014: 24) (Figure 9 and Figure 10). Figure 9. Cognitive workload scale (Strayer et al., 2014) Figure 10. Strayer et al.,’s smart cars distraction ratings (O’Callaghan 2014)
  14. 14.   14 Nesselrath (2013) outlines three levels of driving-related activities in his study on cognitive load in the automotive domain: 1. The maneuvering of the car, e.g. steering and operating the pedals. 2. Maintaining safety while driving, e.g. using windshield wipers, control of lights and turning signals. 3. The control of comfort, infotainment and entertainment functions. (Nesselrath 2013: 66) He states that it cannot be denied in-car infotainment systems are an additional flood of cognitive stimuli which harbours the risk of distracting the driver from their primary task, namely to steer the car (Nesselrath 2013: 266). Therefore, it is crucial, and soon to be more strictly regulated government legislation in the US and UK (Carfrae 2014), that a lower priority task, such as interacting or operating an in-car app, does not interfere with or distract from tasks with a higher priority and has a low effect on the driver’s cognitive load. Disparate Infotainment Systems Both in-built and portable/aftermarket in-car infotainment systems have continued to vary in screen size, positioning and functionality since their earliest introduction. There is little consensus, and some conflicting discourse, on the varying affects of display positioning on driver glance behaviour and the affects of user-interface touch interaction (touchscreen, tapping, flicking, swiping, pinching etc.,) on distraction. Wittmann et al.,’s (2006) research into infotainment system positioning stresses the importance of taking careful consideration of the placement of onboard displays for the presentation of visual information in the car. The study states that distances between displays and the outside line of sight had a significant effect on driving performance and their subjective mental workload measures (Figure 11). In conclusion, the nearer the infotainment system is positioned to the windscreen (e.g. above the middle-console or above the dashboard) “the less detrimental effect has the onboard visuo-motor control of a secondary task on the actual driving performance” (Wittmann et al., 2006: 196). Fuller et al.,’s (2008) research into infotainment system positioning anticipated that driving performance would suffer when their in-vehicle task was performed with a monitor in positions with greater visual angle from the road and greater reach distance. However, contrary to Wittmann et al (2005), the study concluded there was “no significant difference in driving performance between different in-vehicle task monitor positions… the RMS [Root Mean Square] error and delay were approximately the same for all” (Fuller et al., 2008: 1896). Such in agreement of ‘safest’ practice and the lack of universalisable standards for in-car infotainment systems has led to an open market in which “no two [systems] are alike” (Palermo 2013) (Figure 12).
  15. 15.   15 Some car models’ infotainment systems have touchscreen functionality while others do not, some offer voice recognition but some only operate through physical buttons and switches. While many infotainment systems are now multimodal; controlled by a variety of inputs such as touchscreen, speech and physical buttons (commonly located on the steering wheel), consumers are still encouraged to compare cars and “check that the location of the inputs works for [them]” (Consumer Reports 2013: 19). Increasingly, car manufacturers are offering customers a choice of varying levels of interactivity and conspicuousness from their range of infotainment systems. Figure 11. Display location results (Wittmann et al., 2006: 195) Figure 12. (Clockwise from the top) Acura TLX, Audi A6, Ford EcoSport and MINI
  16. 16.   16 Tesla to Navdy Two very unique systems that epitomise either end of the infotainment spectrum are the in-built Tesla Model S display (Figure 13) and the Navdy portable/aftermarket Head-Up Display (HUD) (Figure 14): Telsa Model S Named Motor Trend Car of the Year 2013, Telsa Model S’s infotainment system impressed all the judges with its “unique user interface, courtesy of the giant [17-inch] touch screen in the center of the car that controls everything from the air-conditioning to the nav system to the sound system to the car's steering, suspension, and brake regeneration settings… the Model S interior is virtually button-free” (MacKenzie 2013). The unprecedented size of the in-car display takes up almost all of the dashboard space replacing conventional buttons with a software driven “upgradeable dash… that could be updated over the air to provide new functionality as the years go on” User Interface Manager, Bennan Bobllett (Tengler 2013). The electric luxury car has two display screens, the second being a 7-inch non-touchscreen instrument cluster positioned behind the steering wheel. When the car is stationary the instrument cluster shows which doors are open etc., and then changes to a speedometer and power gauge with images on either side showing battery life, navigation and audio information while driving (CNET 2013). Physical buttons and a scroll on the steering wheel control the instrument cluster and there is also a button for operating the somewhat ‘limited’ voice command. The voice command of the Tesla Model S works in conjunction with the central touchscreen display but essentially just functions as an alternative to keyboard typed searches (requiring the final selection of song name or destination to be made on the central touchscreen display). Although the 17-inch touchscreen allows for larger digital buttons, which reduces usability issues and gaze/concentration time (Evarts 2013), the Tesla Model S display has received mixed reaction from both consumers and user experience professional. There are concerns with having a constant large bright glare from the display while driving and/or the amount of eye/hand coordination when reaching out to the display. Nevertheless, Tesla have undoubtedly extended the paradigm of touchscreen as an input and pushed the boundaries of in-car UI and UX to break new ground with design and stimulate further discourse and innovation in the automobile industry. Navdy The soon to be released (2015) Navdy HUD is a portable/aftermarket device that can be mounted on almost any car dashboard and is inspired by the need to fulfil a solution for maximum in-car functionality without creating driver distraction. “You’re not looking down at knobs and buttons and touchscreens. You’re able to keep your eyes on the road at all times. Improving safety is one of our big goals… and we’re doing everything we can to ensure driver’s eyes stay on the road.” CEO, Doug Simpson (TelematicsWire 2014). Through utilising voice commands and hand gesture recognition, Navdy can display essential car data, GPS Navigation, read and respond to text messages and play requested music on a projected transparent screen seemingly
  17. 17.   17   hovering six feet in front of the driver. With both connection to the cars on- board computer and a Bluetooth connected smartphone, the Navy provides a unique interface and interaction for popular apps including Twitter, Facebook and Spotify (Navdy 2014). Although it has yet to take to the road and been approved by actual consumers, the Navdy should not be taken lightly; despite concerns of increased cognitive load from any modal interaction type, there is research in favour of ‘glance-free’ HUD solutions over touchscreen interaction, and displays positioned below the diver’s line of sight. This novel HUD solution may in fact pioneer the future direction for in-car infotainment systems. Figure 13. Tesla Model S touchscreen and instrument cluster Figure 14. Navdy portable/aftermarket HUD installed on a dashboard
  18. 18.   18 Safety Limitations When working with in-car apps user experience practitioners will have no control over the inherent safety of the manufactures’ chosen infotainment systems. The design and evaluation of apps will be constrained by the limitations of the wide variety of existing infotainment systems. An app that tests well and is deemed appropriate in its function, user interface and interaction on one car’s infotainment system has the potential to be inappropriate and/or hazardous on others. By staying up-to-date with research around the safety of particular types of in-car interactions and systems, the user experience practitioner can make more informed assessments and recommendations during the app’s life-cycle. In-car apps are likely to require a high level of optimisation for effective and appropriate usage in different car models. Adjustments should be made to compensate for any potentially problematic interactions or equally exploit any alternative interactions that may encourage safer usage; for example, enabling control of the app from the steering wheel rather that the touchscreen input could reduce cognitive load from eye/hand coordination. Certain alerts, such as a Facebook updates or Twitter messages, may be acceptable on a HUD system, as a side notice while driving, but could be too great a distraction on a touchscreen display. Such alerts to content rich information may tempt a driver to redirect their focus to the infotainment system and make them feel compelled to browse further; a high-risk task that would be more appropriate after the car has parked (see Guidelines p.23).
  19. 19.   19 There are fundamental user experience design principles that are derived from a combination of theory-based knowledge, experience and common sense, and are intended as generalizable abstractions for thinking about different aspects of design. Various principles have been proposed and interpreted by theorists in Human Computer Interaction for any interaction design and therefore should be assignable and informative to in-car infotainment systems and in-car apps (Figure 16). Nevertheless, in certain design situation, some design principles may be in conflict with each other or at odds with product design goals and objectives so will require design trade-offs. Design principles are not intended to be followed blindly but rather act as guidance for sensible interface design (Mandel 2013: 80). 4. Design and Evaluation Guidelines   Hansen (1971)   Shneiderman (1987)   Norman (1988)   Morville (2004)   1.   Know the user   Strive for consistency   Visibility   Useful   2.   Minimise memorisation   Enable shortcuts   Feedback   Usable   3.   Optimise operations   Informative feedback   Constraints   Desirable   4.   Engineer for errors   Design to yield closure   Mapping   Findable   5.     Simple error handling   Consistency   Accessible   6.     Easy reversal of actions   Affordance   Credible   7.     User in control   Valuable   8.     Reduce short-term memory load      Figure 16. Table of Design Principles gathered from various theorists Figure 15. Wireframe car sculpture  
  20. 20.   20 Usability guidelines from other devices that utilise relevant interactions, such as touchscreen, natural language user interface/voice control, haptics, gestures, etc., can still offer valuable insights for automotive UX design. Previewing his recent finding at the UXPA14 conference, Hoober’s (2014) presentation ‘Fingers, Thumbs & People: Designing for the way your users really hold and touch their phones and tablet’ discussed the impact of fingers and hands covering areas of the screen and revealed how objects in the corners of screens have lower accuracy than those in the centre. His re-evaluation of hitherto knowledge in touchscreen theory conveys original ideas on designing to avoid errors and takes advantage of his new findings (see more 1. Your users are not like you: a. Design for every users b. Accept that users change c. Plan for every device 2. Users prefer to touch the centre of the screen: a. Place key actions in the middle b. Secondary actions along the top and bottom 3. Users prefer to view the centre of the screen: a. Place key content in the middle b. Allow users to scroll content to comfortable viewing positions 4. Fingers get in the way: a. Make room for fingers around targets b. Put your content or functions where they won’t be covered c. Leave room for gestures and scroll 5. Different devices are used in different ways: a. Support all input types b. Predict use by device class c. Account for distance by adjusting sizes 6. Touch is imprecise: a. Make touch targets as large as possible b. Tap entire containers c. Design in lists and large boxes 7. Touch is inconsistent: a. Design by zones b. Don’t force edge selection c. Very large spacing along the top and bottom 8. People only click what they see: a. Attract the eye b. Afford action c. Be readable d. Inspire confidence 9. Don’t forget cases and bezels: a. Provide room for edge taps and off-screen gesture
  21. 21.   21 10. Work at human scales a. Paper is your friend b. Test and demonstrate on real devices c. Pixels are a lie - plan accordingly (Hoober 2014) In ‘Designing Healthcare Technologies,’ Rennecker and Halgren (2014) present their six ‘Design Rules for Reducing Cognitive Load’. The guidelines, which are directed at but not exclusive to hospital technology, offer design solutions transferable to other demanding, sensitive and high-risk contexts of use (such as while driving): 1. Be Simple: a. Be Minimal i. Be direct Less is more ii. Show only what you really need iii. Group related information iv. Use a clean visual design b. Be Direct i. Careful use of abbreviations ii. Careful use of icons iii. Make alert states obvious 2. Be Helpful: a. Provide Guidance i. Through the workflow ii. Next steps iii. Access to help b. Prevent Errors i. Make it obvious ii. Make it easy iii. Make it “dummy-proof” iv. Prevent omissions 3. Be Smart: a. Be a Natural Extension… of the user i. Hold information in memory of the user ii. Perform calculations for the user b. Be a Natural Extension … of the task i. Providing the right tools at the right time ii. Recognise errors or alert conditions iii. Be easy to ignore when not needed iv. Be difficult to ignore when there’s danger 4. Be Calm: a. Be Attractive i. Use soothing colours ii. Use a neutral colour palette iii. Provide ample white space b. Be Mindful i. Careful use of animation
  22. 22.   22 ii. Pay attention to use of audio* iii. Avoid causing “alarm fatigue” 5. Be Consistent: a. Provide simple, consistent workflows i. Within the design ii. Across your product line iii. Across similar medical devices iv. With users’ expectations b. Predict use by device class c. Account for distance by adjusting sizes 6. Be a Team Player: a. Take a systems engineering perspective b. Avoid local success, global failure i. Consider the other technology being used in conjunction with yours: Competitors’ products Other products from your company Non-related technology (smartphones, tablets, medical devices, etc.) ii. Each technology might have their own unique: Workflows Audio sounds Visual alerts Icon sets & colour palette (Rennecker and Halgren 2014) * See also: Blattner et al., (1989) Earcons and Icons: Their Structure and Commond Design Principles and Gärdenfors (2001) Auditory Interfaces A Design Platform Guidelines specific to in-car infotainment systems, in the reduction of cognitive load and distraction, can be found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation’s ‘Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines For In-Vehicle Electronic Devices’ (2012) and are based upon a set of fundamental principles: 1. The driver’s eyes should usually be looking at the road ahead 2. The driver should be able to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel while performing a secondary task (both driving-related and non-driving related) 3. The distraction induced by any secondary task performed while driving should not exceed that associated with a baseline reference task (manual radio tuning) 4. Any task performed by a driver should be interruptible at any time 5. The driver, not the system/device, should control the pace of task interactions
  23. 23.   23 6. Displays should be easy for the driver to see and content presented should be easily discernible (NHTSA 2012: 10) The full ‘voluntary’ guidelines from NHTSA include the recommendation that the time a driver takes their eyes off the road to perform any task should be limited to 2 seconds at a time and 12 seconds in total. The guidelines also recommend the types of operations and in-car apps that should be disabled and only be accessible when the car is parked, such as: Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing; Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing; Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content (2012: 217). (Follow up Phase 2 and Phase 3 guidelines are due to address visual/manual interfaces for portable/aftermarket electronic devices and voice- based auditory interfaces for both in-built and portable/aftermarket devices, respectively). A prior study by Steven et al.,’s (2002) ‘Design Guidelines for Safety of In- Vehicle Information Systems (IVIS),’ for the Transport Research Laboratory, also recognised that “complex information and control actions should not be designed for use in a moving vehicle because they can be too distracting for drivers” (2002: 34). It includes the following recommends for system dialogue in a moving car: 1. Any IVIS functions that are accessible, but not designed for use when the vehicle is in motion, must be clearly indicated as being restricted 2. Long sequences of interactions with the system should not be required. Drivers should be allowed to interrupt the sequence at any time without consequence 3. There should be a balance between the breadth and height of menus. The number of choices should be limited to three or four options to minimise the complexity and interaction time 4. An ‘off’ or ‘mute’ option should be available 5. System response (eg feedback, confirmation) to driver input should be timely (<250ms) and clearly perceptible 6. Avoid unnecessary attention-grabbing techniques (eg Boeing’s Dark and Silent cockpit metaphor: ‘Do not blink or beep unless absolutely necessary’) 7. Prioritise information 8. Drivers should be able to initiate and control the pace of interaction with the system; no time-critical responses should be required when providing input to the system
  24. 24.   24 10. Do not display information when the driver is busy, although this guideline is for more advanced “intelligent” systems, eg GIDS (Michon, 1993). (Steven et al., 2002: 35) Individual car manufacturers and in-car infotainment solution providers have their own specific design principles and guidelines. In order for an in-car app to be made accessible in particular vehicles, or through the various solution providers, it must meet their unique requirements. Increasingly, these companies are initiating open-source development platforms with access to their guidelines, Software Development Kit (SDK) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) online (Figure 17). There are no universalisable guidelines or standards for the development of in-car apps, however, alliances, such as the Car Connectivity Consortium do work closely with over 70% of the world’s automakers in their vision and pursuit for global standards in phone-centric car connectivity solutions (MirrorLink 2014).   Company   Service   Development     Ford   Sync AppLink   GM Motors Group   MyLink, IntelliLink, CUE, OnStar   BMW Group   AppCenter, iDrive, ConnectedDrive, MINI Connected, Rolls-Royce Connect Offers-SDK-to-Third-Party-App- Developers_a3745.html Toyota Entune, QNX l?programid=26072           Car Connectivity Concortium MirrorLink registration les/docs/Session1_MirrorLink%20for%20 App%20Developers.pdf   Apple   Apple CarPlay Google AndriodAuto ew.html#architecture   OpenCar OpenCar Connect, InsideTrack   CarManufacturersSolutionProvidersOther Figure 17. Table of links to company guidelines, Software Development Kit (SDK) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  25. 25.   25 Factors and Measures There are key factors, integral to assessments of usability, which have been identified and interpreted by various theorists in Human Computer Interaction. Harvey and Stanton (2014) present five significant authors’ contributions to usability factors (Figure 18) that they synthesised into a single list of 10 high- level usability factors: 1. Effectiveness 2. Efficiency 3. Satisfaction 4. Learnability 5. Memorability 6. Flexibility 7. Perceived usefulness 8. Task match 9. Task characteristics 10. User criteria (Harvey and Stanton 2014: 28) Harvey and Stanton analysed the process of defining such usability factors for an IVIS [in-car infotainment system] through in depth consideration of the context-of-use “in order to specify more detailed, and therefore more useful, criteria and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)” (2014: 28). The 10 high- level factors were translated as 12 IVIS-specific criteria (Figure 19) with KPIs included for each criterion: “these describe how the criteria should be measured in terms of IVIS task times, error rates, task structure, input styles, user satisfaction, and driving performance” (2014: 34). Figure 18. Key usability factors proposed by the significant authors in the field (Harvey and Stanton 2014: 29)
  26. 26.   26 A list of four main categories of measures for in-car infotainment evaluation are summarized below with examples of their use in practice and references for further study: Subjective Measures Involving the assessment of people’s attitudes and opinions towards an infotainment system with some methods using expert evaluators to identify potential errors, highlight usability issues, and suggest design improvements (Harvey and Stanton 2014: 52). Nesselrath (2013) states that a traditional way to assess the subjective cognitive load of a user is introspection which can be acquired by a in-depth interviews or questionnaire e.g. with the NASA Task Load Index (NASA-TLX). However, “because this method is an intrusive procedure and would add an additional task to the cognitive load it can only be done after the experience… cannot be used for real-time assessment” (Nesselrath 2013: 69). Physiological Measures Based on the premise that the user’s cognitive stress is reflected in the human physiology, potential physiological indicators can include: heart rate variability; brain activity; galvanic skin response; eye activity; respiration rate variability and muscle tension (Nesselrath 2013: 67, and Engen et al., 2009: 2). In Strayer et al.,’s (2014) experiments for the AAA Foundation study, a selection of participants were equipped with a Zephyr BioHarness 3 Heart Rate Monitor, attached around the participant’s chest and either an electro- encephalographic (EEG) cap, with built-in electrodes for measuring electrical brain activity, or Electrooculogram (EOG) electrodes placed at the lateral canthi of both eyes (horizontal) and above and below the left eye (vertical) to track eye movements and record eye blinks (Strayer et al., 2014: 9) (Figure 20). Figure 19. General usability criteria made specific to in-car infotainment systems (Harvey and Stanton 2014: 35)
  27. 27.   27 Performance Measures Based on the premise that performance of a task solution is influenced by cognitive load, various concepts are used to estimate performance and provide insights into cognitive load. Task processing requirements can be evaluated by considering the amount of time required, error rate and/or type or errors, and the response or reaction time to a stimulus event. Other frequently used indicators include brake reaction time, lateral control, longitudinal control, visual management, and interaction with other vehicles (Nesselrath 2013: 67 and Engen et al., 2009: 2). Performance indices used to asses mental workload in Strayer et al.,’s (2014) experiments for the AAA Foundation study included reaction time and accuracy in response to a Peripheral Light Detection Task, designed by Precision Driving Research, Inc. It used mounted LED lights and a micro-switch attached to participant’s thumb that was depressed in response to a green light (2014: 8) (See also: ISO 2012). Other tests included Brake Reaction Time which was measured as the interval between the onset of the pace car’s brake lights and the onset of the participant’s breaking response and Following Distance measured as the distance between the rear car bumper of the pace car and the front bumper of the participant’s car at the moment of brake onset (2014: 14). Figure 20. AAA Foundation study field-testing measures in an instrumented research vehicle through residential roadways (Strayer et al., 2014)
  28. 28.   28 Behavioural Measures Chen et al., (2013) defines responsive-based behavioural features as those that can be extracted from user activity that is predominantly related to deliberate/voluntary task completion, for example, eye-gaze tracking, application usage, gesture input or any other kind of interactive input used to issue system commands (2013: 5). Speech cues are also acknowledged as having a relationship to cognitive load based on hither-to research showing features that vary according to task difficulty include pitch, prosody, speech rate, speech energy, and speech frequency (2013: 6). In addition, high level of disfluencies, fillers, breaks or mispronunciations are considered speech indicators of cognitive stress (Oviatt et al., 2003: 48). Findings from a soon to be published study ‘Emotion matters: Implications for distracted driving’ by Chan and Singhal (2015) brings to light the detrimental effects of negative emotional auditory content on driving performance. The results demonstrate that emotion-related auditory distraction can differentially affect driving performance depending on the valence of the emotional content; negative distractions reduced lateral control and slowed driving speeds compared to positive and neutral distractions (Chan and Singhal 2015: 302).
  29. 29.   29 It is apparent that we are on the fringe of significant advancements in car connectivity and a hugely profitable in-car app market. Exactly how in-car infotainment will mature and play its role in the envisioned Internet of Things is still uncertain, but, it will no doubt be a rewarding endeavour to engage in, and contribute to, its current state and development. This study has conveyed the challenges and complexities that the user experience industry faces in the automobile domain while equally showing how design principles and current and adapted ux practices can be utilised, alongside multi-disciplinary approaches, to limit and lessen them. Although there are concerns about increased cognitive load and distraction during certain types of infotainment use, in the near future, this may not be an issue; technological developments in autonomous cars are leading the way for self-driving and safety ‘conscious’ vehicles that remove driver human error much-like the vision portrayed in 2004 film iRobot (Figure 21). Google are in the process of developing and testing driverless cars (Whitwam 2014) and 2013 has already seen the release of the Mercedes S-Class “loaded with the technology that promotes ultimate safety:” autonomous steering; lane keeping; acceleration/braking; parking; accident avoidance and driver fatigue detection (Kurylko 2014). For now, infotainment remains a somewhat fractional domain, with indecisive government legislation, and nonconcurrent theory on safety. Moreover, the user experience practitioner may well be faced with ethical dilemmas, such as working on products that do not meet critical guidelines or fail safety testing. However, what must be upheld is the responsibility for 5. Discussion Figure 21. iRobot Audi car in ‘Auto’ steering wheel free mode
  30. 30.   30 safeguarding drivers through conscientious, and exceptional usability design whilst maintaining creative, meaningful, impressionable and aesthetically pleasing experiences. Indeed a seemingly impossible task, but surely that is what is at the heart of great user experience; the pursuit to create seamless solutions to real-world problems from a user-centric perspective.
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