A Review and Meta Analysis of Vibrotactile and Visual Information Displays

Report No. ARL-TR-4955
Authors: Linda R. Elliott, Michael D. Coovert, Matthew Prewett, Ashley G. Walvord, Kristin Saboe, and Ryan Johnson
Date/Pages: September 2009; 36 pages
Abstract: Many studies have investigated the impact of vibrotactile cues on task performance, but the wide range of cue and task types have made findings difficult to interpret without a quantitative synthesis. We provide a systematic review of studies on vibrotactile cue effectiveness with regard to task performance, organized by types of comparisons and cue complexity. Fortyfive studies met the criteria for meta-analytic comparisons. Three types of comparisons were made: (1) the addition of a new tactile cue to a "baseline" condition, (2) the comparison of tactile cues to visual cues representing the same information, and (3) the comparison of visual cues compared to a multimodal combination of tactile and visual cues representing the same information. The level of cue information complexity was also examined as a moderator. When added to a baseline task or existing visual cues, tactile cues enhanced task performance. When tactile cues replaced visual cues, however, effects are attenuated and moderated by cue information complexity. Tactile alerts are effective when replacing visual alerts, but tactile direction cues do not improve performance when replacing visual direction cues. This meta-analysis of tactile applications underscores the benefits of vibrotactile and multimodal displays, highlights conditions in which tactile cues are particularly effective, and identifies areas in need of further investigation.
Distribution: Approved for public release
  Download Report ( 0.132 MBytes )
If you are visually impaired or need a physical copy of this report, please visit and contact DTIC.

Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2009