Comparison of Army Hand and Arm Signals to a Covert Tactile Communication System in a Dynamic Environment

Report No. ARL-TR-3838
Authors: Rodger A. Pettitt, Elizabeth S. Redden, and Christian B. Carstens
Date/Pages: August 2006; 46 pages
Abstract: This study was conducted jointly by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Central Florida. The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate Soldiers? abilities to interpret and respond to tactile commands compared to their abilities to interpret and respond to standard visual hand and arm signals given from leaders in front of and behind them during movement. The tactile belt, developed by UCF, consists of eight tactors (tactile drivers) arranged equidistant around the Soldier?s waist. Individual or multiple tactors can be activated by an operator using a remote wireless control system. Infantry Soldiers, wearing their standard uniforms and body armor, negotiated a woodland individual movement technique (IMT) obstacle course while simulating a combat patrol. Tactile and visual hand and arm signals were sent to the Soldiers as they negotiated the course. The accuracy of signal interpretation and response times was recorded. The tactile signal patterns were intuitive and easy for the Soldiers to understand; less than 10 minutes? training was required for the Soldiers to become accurate in interpreting the four tactile signals used during the experiment. Results demonstrated that Soldiers performing IMT were able to receive, interpret, and accurately respond to the tactile commands faster than when the information was passed by leaders in the front of a wedge formation and leaders in the back of a wedge formation using conventional hand and arm signals. Soldiers also commented that they were better able to focus more attention on negotiating obstacles and on area situational awareness when receiving tactile signals than when maintaining visual contact with their leaders in order to receive standard hand and arm signals.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2006