Journal article Open Access

The Development and Evaluation of Countermeasures to Tactile Change Blindness

Riggs, S. L.; Sarter, N.

OBJECTIVE: The goal of the present study was to develop and empirically evaluate three countermeasures to tactile change blindness (where a tactile signal is missed in the presence of a tactile transient). Each of these countermeasures relates to a different cognitive step involved in successful change detection. BACKGROUND: To date, change blindness has been studied primarily in vision, but there is limited empirical evidence that the tactile modality may also be subject to this phenomenon. Change blindness raises concerns regarding the robustness of tactile and multimodal interfaces. METHOD: Three countermeasures to tactile change blindness were evaluated in the context of a highly demanding monitoring task. One countermeasure was proactive (alerting the participant to a possible change before it occurred) whereas the other two were adaptive (triggered after the change upon an observed miss). Performance and subjective data were collected. RESULTS: Compared to the baseline condition, all countermeasures improved intramodal tactile change detection. Adaptive measures resulted in the highest detection rates, specifically when signal gradation was employed (i.e., when the intensity of the tactile signal was increased after a miss was observed). CONCLUSION: Adaptive displays can be used to counter the effects of change blindness and ensure that tactile information is reliably detected. Increasing the tactile intensity after a missed change appears most promising and was the preferred countermeasure. APPLICATION: The findings from this study can inform the design of interfaces employing the tactile modality to support monitoring and attention management in data-rich domains.
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