Soldier-Based Assessment of a Dual-Row Tactor Display during Simultaneous Navigational and Robot-Monitoring Tasks

Report No. ARL-TR-7397
Authors: Gina Pomranky-Hartnett; Linda R Elliott; Bruce JP Mortimer; Greg R Mort; Rodger A Pettitt; Gary A Zets
Date/Pages: August 2015; 90 pages
Abstract: Dismounted Soldiers consistently experience heavy cognitive and visual workloads during navigation and patrol, particularly under conditions of high stress and time pressure. As a result, a variety of naturalistic user-technology interfaces have been developed to lower workload and enhance dismounted Soldier performance. A series of experiments showed that tactile augmentation to navigation and communication systems can lower workload and enhance performance. This report describes further development of a tactile system that enables simultaneous presentations of navigation and robot communication/monitoring information using tactile patterns composed of 2 types of advanced tactors. Data were collected on 36 Soldiers who volunteered to perform night operations involving waypoint navigation and receipt of incoming messages. They used a standard chest-mounted smartphone visual display, consistent with NettWarrior concepts, integrated with the tactile belt system. Soldiers performed navigation and communication tasks, once with the tactile system turned on and once with the tactile system turned off. Results showed that missions performed with the tactile system turned on were associated with reduced mission times, increased navigation accuracy, very low rates of checking the visual display, and lower reported experience of cognitive workload, effort, and frustration. When using the tactile system, Soldiers reported being more situationally aware of their surroundings and having better control of their weapon.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2015