When given Videomap directions, drivers made the correct turn 80 percent of the time. With a map and text directions, the drivers made the correct turn only 60 percent of the time. “The results are pretty conclusive,” Chen says. He adds that the drivers also didn’t have to look at their printed material as often after watching Videomap directions. Furthermore, the majority of users preferred Videomap.
While Chen was happy with the results, he would like to perform the tests again. The initial tests used the same video for both the Videomap and the simulation, although the simulation video was not sped up or enhanced in any way. Chen would like to see how much the visual cues help when the season or lighting is different in the simulation.
“We also want to see if we can improve [the] interface itself,” he says. “The map is currently synchronized to the video, so that the map is moving when [the] video is playing.” This divides the user’s attention between the video and the map, Chen says. He hopes to find a way to reliably draw the user’s attention to the video when approaching a landmark, for example.
Arzu Coltekin, a senior researcher at the University of Zurich who works in the Geographic Information Visualization and Analysis Division, finds the work interesting. Some might say that a system such as Videomap isn’t necessary because of the proliferation of GPS receivers in cars, but Coltekin notes that it would still be useful for those who bike or walk, which “is quite common in Europe. And when you are walking or biking, often you don’t have a GPS.” But she says the team needs to come up with a way to automatically identify landmarks.
Chen says that Microsoft could use a list of landmarks that is already in its geospatial database, or such a list could perhaps be compiled by users.
When designing an embedded system choosing which tools to use often comes down to building a custom solution or buying off-the-shelf tools.