Situational Awareness through Augmented Reality (AR)

Situational awareness can be defined as the detection and comprehension of elements in the environment, and maintaining situational awareness is crucial in safety critical domains. Poor situational awareness has led to aircraft crashes, oil spills, and medical errors. Augmented reality (AR) has been shown to be a promising tool for increasing users’ situational awareness. AR keeps users situated in reality while allowing interaction with virtual objects, thus having the potential to increase situational awareness through providing a secondary channel of information that can be overlaid over the real world. However, previous studies have mainly concentrated on examining the applicability of using AR and how AR compares to traditional methods instead of the design of information.

In our work, we focus on exploring the design of information in AR headsets in the context of increasing users’ situational awareness. It is important to consider how to design information; for example, including unclear and extraneous information can distract the user from the main task and prohibit the user from understanding the situation. Our goal is to understand how to design information in AR headsets to support users’ situational awareness, which will then lower the users’ cognitive workload and aid in increasing task efficiency.