As people drive in cluttered and potentially hazardous environments, they could benefit from having more information about their surroundings, but they don't have the time to take their eyes off the road — and can't risk splitting their attention. So how can users interpret more data while using a system to make operations safer?
Working with Carnegie Mellon University and small-business partner Embr Labs, Draper developed a solution that uses a systems approach to help people recognize and understand data from their surroundings. Immersive Situational Awareness Wear, called isaWear™, is a group of wearables that present data to several senses to enable rapid understanding of information so that it can be acted upon quickly. This includes a thermal bracelet worn on a temperature-sensitive area of the wrist, developed by Draper in collaboration with Embr Labs.
Sensory reactions are much faster than intentional decisions. The human brain fuses sensory input together to provide situational awareness. More and different neurons fire when a person sees and hears something compared to experiencing it through a single sense. Presenting data to multiple senses provides richer support for situational awareness. isaWear's coordinated data delivery combines multisensory cues to enable faster reactions and a safer experience.
This technology can be applied to autonomous vehicles, which must be able to convey information efficiently so drivers can take the wheel when necessary. isaWear can quickly alert drivers to obstacles on the road by delivering a 3D audio cue and a heat pulse to the driver's wrist.
isaWear can also benefit first responders who work in noisy environments, where pressure and sensory overload can result in overlooking critical information. As a mode of connected interaction in smart buildings, the technology can organize communications for large groups. It has the potential to help developers coordinate heavy machineries on a construction site and stock traders make quick decisions based on large volumes of data.
Draper's User Experience (UX) group is expanding applications for isaWear and other UX solutions to new areas like big data and biotechnology. From displays for ICU nurses to tactical aids for warfighters, Draper continues to develop technology that enables users to understand and perform more efficiently in their workspaces.