This paper provides a project overview and summarizes the general lessons learned from a major research project on driver information systems. Emphasized are lessons that transcend experiments and have programmatic impact for project managers and sponsors.
The goals of the project were to develop (1) human factors guidelines, (2) methods for examining the safety and ease of use of driver interfaces, and (3) a driver performance model. Five systems (navigation, traffic information, road hazard warning, vehicle monitoring, and car phones) were examined in 20 experiments. Experiments included surveys at driver licensing offices, response time tasks, driving simulator studies, part-task simulations, and on-the-road evaluations.
A major group of lessons concerned how realistic, inexpensive, and rapidly-produced interface prototypes can be, and how to achieve a high level of fidelity. (Use SuperCard and HyperCard to develop them. Have prototypes operated surreptitiously by experiments in response to real world events (the Wizard of Oz method).
Of the methods explored, there were lessons concerning focus groups (ineffective for products beyond participant experience), response time tasks (use them to evaluate display readability) and usefulness of the subjects-in-tandem method (in which pairs of subject collaborate in using a product).
The research provided several lessons concerning the inadequacies of low-fidelity driving simulators (unsatisfactory estimates of driving performance, sign legibility inadequate for route guidance assessments, numerous problems with videotape-based simulations). Lessons from the on-the-road evaluations related to test vehicle shake down (extensive time is needed), and determining workload (for comparable test conditions) and data reduction. (New methods are needed in both cases).
During these evaulations, design guidelines emerged from interface design decisions (the preferred approach), not from a summary of the literature. General guidelines and principles (especially consistency), proved very useful in design.
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