Nagoya Experiment – drivers are bad followers

October 27, 2016 Leave a comment

When we are asked to follow another car at a constant speed we tend to make little variations in speed rather than driving at a constant speed. Those variations can initiate brake reactions in drivers following us, and then drivers following them – a wavelike proceed of the brake reaction that can initate a traffic jam for no reason. Mathematical this behaviour is can be described similar to a damper, two waves influencing a third wave. One wave describes the acceleration/deceleration of the lead driver, another wave the acceleration / deceleration of the following driver, those both waves influence the acceleration / deceleration of the traffic behind those cars (described by the third wave). How easy and fast, within a couple of seconds, that can happen you can see in the video below. The study behind the video was conducted by Prof. Sugiyama from Nagoya university. Drivers were asked to drive in a roundabout with constant speed, following other drivers. There occur traffic jams for no reason after a couple of seconds.

Connected car technology might be able to limit the proceeding of traffic jam shockwaves such as in the video by informing drivers about variations in traffic seconds before the drivers notices a behaviour change in their lead cars (e.g. Fuchs et al.). Such system feedback might be “too late” to help drivers driving directly behind the lead vehicle as the lead car’s system needs time to recognise and communicate the braking event to the other cars, but it could help the driver behind that car. Another variable to consider is how drivers react to such a system feedback, if the system feedback could / should include guidance for the response – e.g. recommending the driver to decrease to a certain speed to keep in flow to avoid too harsh braking. Harsh braking might result in the next shockwave and should be avoided. Research in car-following behavior is not new, e.g. Ranney discusses car-following models in his paper from 1999 or by Panwai et al. in 2005, rather “rediscovered” in course of higher automated vehicles and connected cars.

Another interesting aspect is the personal distance that a driver prefers and keeps to other cars for hisher feeling of safety. It is something indivdual, depending, e.g. on personality and driving style. However, in dense traffic drivers maybe forced to keep smaller distances. The driver needs to satisfice between the safety levels that the he/she wants to keep and getting with the traffic, e.g. if the traffic density is high and the driver would keep a longer safety distance to the car in front this longer gap could be used by other drivers to move in. IF the safety distance is reduced, does this then influence how drivers react to braking of a lead vehicles? How would they react if the system provides a suggestion for a certain speed, would they follow the suggestion?

New Scientist

Fuchs et al.

Panwei and Dia

Shower head shows water temperature

October 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Everyday Usability 38: coffee break with Don Norman

October 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Discussion about conceptual models with Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini. The video is from 2013, but I just found it on YouTube. You can also find a link to the video on Don’s website:

Categories: Everyday usability

A pen that can draw conductivity

September 8, 2016 Leave a comment

The japanese start-up company Kandenko invented a pen that can draw conductivity. Watch the impressive video of what the pen can do. The pen uses a silver ink which seems to harden when it is drawn on a surface. So the drawing is actually 3D and lines that were drawn with the pen can be picked up as thin solid layer. When the drawing is picked up it looks a bit like in a children’s pop-up book.

The pen is already available as product on the Japanese Amzon website.

3D Modelling Made Easy – sketch and get a 3D model

In a TED talk I just learned about Gravity Sketch. The company develops a software for 3D modelling. It was founded in 2013 from students at the Royal College of Art London. Development focus lays on a usable interface to make 3D modelling a fast and easy process that is open to all people (with a tablet). The interaction concept bases on sketching forms on a tablet. Dependent on the applied function the form is then transferred into a 3D model. From the first impression the interface is looks much less crowded than in other 3D software and it was possible to design the 3D model of a glass in a few seconds (demonstration). However, they apply different gestures, so it remains for the user to learn the functions that the tool offers and how to apply different gestures. Don Norman talks about challenges in gesture design. The first questions are: What can I do and where and how? The user needs signifiers in the interface and for a good memorable interaction they would need to make sense to the 3D modelling action. The interaction should fit to the conceptual model that the user has of creating the 3D object. At best the signifiers are such that are used in other tools as well. There still seems to be no standard for that. Gestures can be adapted from typical interaction with a touchscreen, e.g. swipe to move objects or the two finger gesture for zoom. Perhaps the tool could offer a guide talking the user through the interface, meanwhile showing a video of the specific interaction. Experienced users could have the option to turn the teaching mode off.

In the video tutorials below you can see a bit of the functionality. Keen explorers can watch their YouTube channel and can learn in their tutorials how to design different 3D objects. If you want to have a go then get a free version of the program from the ITunes. The tutorial below explains how to design a 3D giraffe (a child’s version):

One major aim of the software is to make 3D printing, specifically 3D printing of self-designed objects, easier. As 3D printers are still expensive it is unlikely that customers have them at home yet. The software bridges the gap through collaboration with other companies. A link to a 3D printing company is already integrated in the software. Users can upload their 3D model into the other company’s wensite and order a 3D print.

100% usable Product by Scott Adams

Categories: Everyday usability

Interface design: The gulf of execution explained in a funny way