Preserving auditory situation awareness in headphone-distracted persons
by Keenan R. May; Bruce N. Walker
International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics (IJHFE), Vol. 7, No. 1, 2020

Abstract: Auditory distraction due to portable audio devices poses a hazard for pedestrians and cyclists. To explore solutions, auditory situation awareness (SA) was assessed within a simulated auditory roadway environment rendered via speakers. Participants' ability to report the presence and current/future location of vehicles was measured. The key manipulation was whether concurrently-presented distracting music was spatialised. Also manipulated were two common safety measures that impact spatialisation quality: whether bone or air conduction headphones were used, and whether sounds were presented in one or both ears. Spatialisation of distractors improved vehicle localisation in some conditions, as did presenting to one ear and via bone conduction. In Experiment 2, distractors were spatialised adaptively, to be diametrically opposed to targets. This intervention improved localisation without increasing workload. Results suggest that static or adaptive spatialisation should be considered as a safety measure for sound presentation in computing systems used by cyclists or pedestrians.

Online publication date: Mon, 11-May-2020

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