Doctoral dissertation

Dissertation: Vibrotactile cues reduce information load in navigation and object selection

Modern technology often overloads the limited capabilities of human information processing. Complementing visual interaction methods with vibrotactile cues could alleviate the problems caused by information load, such as slowing down and error-proneness. A typical example of vibrotactile cues is a vibrating notification given by a smartphone, but it is possible to apply vibrotactile cues more widely.

The dissertation explored how vibrotactile cues can assist the user in tasks that include navigation and object selection. The experiments included navigating as a pedestrian and a driver, and selecting objects with eye control and hand control. The goal was to find ways to reduce the information load caused by these tasks and thus improve performance and user experience. The experiments measured task completion times, error rates and surveyed user experiences through questionnaires and interviews.

The results showed that if the context of use allows both user-initiated and computer-initiated cues, user-initiated cues are a preferred option. Further, the results showed that using simple analogies in cues and supporting the interaction with other modalities can keep the information load as low as possible. Additionally, the temple area turned out to be a feasible location for vibrotactile cues.

The results can be utilized to reduce information load in human-technology interaction and to improve the user's sense of control when using information technology.

M.A. Tomi Nukarinen's doctoral thesis Assisting Navigation and Object Selection with Vibrotactile Cues is publicly examined at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communications of the Tampere University on Thursday 7 March at noon (Campus Chapel Pinni B5103). The opponent is Professor Stephen Brewster from University of Glasgow. The event is supervised by Professor Roope Raisamo from the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences.

The dissertation is available online at