September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
iBlindness: Restoring Situational Awareness to Pedestrians Using Smartphones
Author Affiliations
  • Joshua New
    Department of Psychology, Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Nechama Kaiser
    Department of Psychology, Barnard College, Columbia University
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 1113. doi:
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      Joshua New, Nechama Kaiser; iBlindness: Restoring Situational Awareness to Pedestrians Using Smartphones. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1113.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Smartphones have been implicated in the rapid increase of pedestrian injuries and deaths: not only by distracting drivers, but also pedestrians who are using (e.g. texting) and/or listening to smartphones (e.g. headphones) around traffic. These studies are part of a project developing technology for detecting oncoming vehicles and alerting distracted walkers. We used a spatial cuing task to evaluate 1) how deleterious smartphone use is to observers' awareness of surrounding events, and 2) the extent that auditory alerts could speed distracted observers' reactions to appearing hazards. Seated observers were asked to respond as quickly as possible where a target (8.7° x 0.6° black vertical bar) appeared. These targets were projected at their approximate eyeline on the wall in front of them, and moved horizontally from the projected display's right or left edge to its midline, or until the participant responded by depressing their right or left footpedal. In the baseline experiment, participants used their silenced smartphones freely in every other trial block, and performed only the detection task in the other blocks. As expected, when using their smartphones, participants were significantly slower to detect appearing targets. This increased latency, however, was virtually eliminated when targets were accompanied by an alerting, nondirectional tone – as this technology could provide. In Experiment 2, participants performed the same task but used their smartphones in every block. Again, targets were reported significantly more quickly when accompanied by a nondirectional tone. Unexpectedly, valid directional alerts – tones from a speaker on their left or right – were no more effective at speeding target detection than nondirectional alerts, and verbal alerts ("LEFT", "RIGHT") were significantly less effective. These results were replicated in Experiment 3, but slowed overall by having participants respond in the opposite direction of the target – as one might to avoid a hazard.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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