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Assessing Effectiveness of Multi-Touch for DP Operation

Navigating a vessel using dynamic positioning (DP) systems close to offshore installations is a challenge. The operator's only possibility of manipulating the system is through its interface, which can be categorized as the physical appearance of the equipment and the visualization of the system.

Frøy Bjørneseth | Mark Dunlop | Eva Hornecker

Are there possibilities of interaction between the operator and the system that can reduce strain and cognitive load during DP operations? Can parts of the system (e.g. displays) be physically brought closer to the user to enhance the feeling of control when operating the system? Can these changes make DP operations more efficient and safe?

These questions inspired this research project, which investigates the use of multi-touch and hand gestures known from consumer products to directly manipulate the visualization of a vessel in the 3D scene of a DP system. Usability methodologies and evaluation techniques that are widely used in consumer market research were used to investigate how these interaction techniques, which are new to the maritime domain, could make interaction with the DP system more efficient and transparent both during standard and safety-critical operations. After investigating which gestures felt natural to use by running user tests with a paper prototype, the gestures were implemented into a Rolls-Royce DP system and tested in a static environment. The results showed that the test participants performed significantly faster using direct gesture manipulation compared to using traditional touch button/menu interaction. To support the results from these tests, further tests were carried out. The purpose is to investigate how gestures are performed in a moving environment, using a motion platform to simulate rough sea conditions.

Frøy received an "honourable mention" in the prize awards on Friday at the Human Performance at Sea HPAS 2010 conference for her paper on "Assessing the Effectiveness of Multi-Touch Interfaces for DP Operation". The International Conference, HUMAN PERFORMANCE AT SEA (HPAS 2010), hosted by the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK, is organised in association with ABCD and UK MOD with Lloyd's Register as main sponsor and co-sponsor Rolls-Royce.

HPAS 2010 brings the world's leading experts from commercial and navy related maritime sectors, and people working on Maritime Human Factors, to discuss and share the results of their work, to identify issues and find solutions to these issues with a focus on Human Performance at Sea.

With 58 papers being presented at the conference, it is anticipated that HPAS 2010 will create a world-wide network on Maritime Human Factors. This network will focus their efforts in a concerted way, to address the Maritime Human Factors problems, which are multi-disciplinary, complex and resource intensive.