Simon Ramm

Naturalness of driver-car interaction

Technology is changing the nature of the driving task, and many drivers report an overwhelming or disconnected user experience with their cars. My research is looking at the naturalness of driver-car interaction as now is a good opportunity to try to measure what characteristics and situations feel natural to the driver, when interacting with the secondary or infotainment controls of a car. Most automotive research takes a ‘human performance testing’ approach so we wanted to complement this with qualitative in-depth research capturing the whole picture of drivers’ perceptions, feelings, meanings and desires. The first study as part of this research will interview drivers inside their own parked cars using in-depth ethnographically inspired interviews. The second study will involve a hands-on exploratory workshop which got participants creating natural-feeling dashboards and unnatural-feeling dashboards from real car components and materials. It will also includefocus groups, ‘Think Aloud’ testing of various car controls, and simulations of a future ‘talking car’. My research will be triangulating these studies with ethnographic observations of drivers on the road, and designing a naturalness measurement scale tool which will help car companies predict whether a control, system or dashboard is likely to feel natural or not.

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