The effect of a simultaneous speech discrimination task on navigation in a virtual environment
Lindsay, Jeffrey Thomas
MetadataShow full item record
Moving through varied and complex environments every day is something that most people do with ease. However, if the input from the visual system is unavailable (e.g., damage to the optic nerves or smoke in a burning building), navigating and avoiding obstacles becomes much more demanding. It is therefore desirable to develop a navigation aide for use where visual input has become unavailable. There is a small body of research concerning such navigation aides and their efficacy. However, many issues that may have serious human factors repercussions for such a system are unexplored. This study was conducted in order to examine the effect of an attentionally demanding distractor task on wayfinding performance with an audio only navigation aide, in this case the System for Wearable Audio Navigation (SWAN). The distractor task was found to have a significant impact on wayfinding performance, which decreased when both tasks were performed simultaneously. However, performance on the distractor task improved during this time, in some cases reaching performance levels similar to when the distractor task was performed by itself. This result may be due to participants shifting attention to the task they perceive to be more difficult when asked to do both simultaneously, in this case the distractor task.