SteerPad Development and Evaluation of a Touchpad in the Steering Wheel from a User Experience Perspective
Driver safety has since the birth of automobiles been paramount. In a time when technologies are changing the way people interact with the outside world, the vehicle industries need to keep up with these changes in terms of both safety and user experience. When trying to assess this complication, some of these technologies have been integrated into the cars, thus leading to more distractions while driving. This thesis describes this dilemma as the gap between automobile safety and in-vehicle infotainment. By the use of a touchpad installed on the right hand side of the steering wheel, the thesis has developed and evaluated a prototype interface that is located in the vehicles dashboard display with goals to lower driver distraction. This touchpad is developed with three main sources of interaction; swipes, tactile interaction and character recognition. By merging and combining these sources the thesis has successfully developed a test prototype to be used for evaluation. The prototype was tested against an already existing in-vehicle information system where a number of use cases and scenarios were used to test the systems in terms of usability and user experience. Guidelines on safety regulations set by NHTSA have been studied and applied to the projects development and user studies. Test results indicate that this technology has the potential to lower the driver distraction while still maintaining a high level of usability and user experience. Finally the thesis presents a number of suggestions and ideas in reference to further development and studies.