SCS Undergraduate Thesis Topics

Student Advisor(s) Thesis Topic
Ivan Gonzalez Brad Myers Thumb Based Interaction Techniques for Input on a Steering Wheel

As more systems that require user input are integrated into motor vehicles or carried in by the driver, it is necessary to investigate new interaciton techniques that are well suited for in-vehicle interaction. The systems today include navigation/information systems, MP3 players, satellite radios, and cellular phones, PDAs, and more will certainly be available in the future or carried into the vehicle by the user. Current interaction techniques in automobiles mostly use buttons, custom knobs or on-screen keyboards, which require the user's visual attention. A proposed alternative is voice recognition; but it has numerous drawbacks, including low accuracy in general, susceptibility to environmental noise, vulnerability to user differences, and a tendency to convey greater intelligence than warranted. In order for in-vehicle user input to be safe and feasible, it is necessary to investigate interaction techniques that allow the driver to focus on the road by minimizing required visual attention and movement away from the steering wheel.

This research is investigating interaction techniques that rely on the use of the driver's thumb on a touch-sensitive portion of the steering wheel. Selection task and text entry tasks will be evaluated while stationary and during simulated driving. Selection task that will be tested include: clutching, relative displacement and dialing. Text entry task will be evaluated using gestural input techniques and also selection based soft-keyboards. The selection task and text entry task will be compared to current methods in terms of speed, accuracy and also impact on simulated driving performances.

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