Effects of coherent, integrated, and context-dependent adaptable user interfaces on operators’ situation awareness, performance, and workload

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Nautical traffic management in The Netherlands is shifting from local traffic control to corridor traffic management. Current traffic management systems do not sufficiently support operators in perceptual and cognitive process to interpret and understand the large amounts of information needed for corridor traffic management. Newly developed user interface concepts aim to overcome deficiencies of current interface designs that insufficiently support situation awareness assessment. The effects of these new user interfaces, however, are insufficiently known due to the intricate relations between situation awareness, task performance, and workload. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effects of the three previously developed user interface concepts on operators’ situation awareness, task performance, and workload to gain better insights into the benefits and limitations of the user interface design concepts. The effects were tested in a simulator environment. The results show that user interface features of an integrated user interface allowed operators to apply more effective information processing, which resulted in better task performance. Features of a context-dependent adaptable user interface triggered proactive behavior of operators, which resulted in better task performance for tasks in which operators require insight into future activities of the elements in the environment.