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The last few years have seen many exciting developments in the area of tactile and multisensory interface design. One of the most rapidly-moving practical application areas for these findings is in the development of warning signals and information displays for drivers. For instance, tactile displays can be used to awaken sleepy drivers, to capture the attention of distracted drivers, and even to present more complex information to drivers who may be visually-overloaded. This review highlights the most important potential costs and benefits associated with the use of tactile and multisensory information displays in a vehicular setting. Multisensory displays that are based on the latest cognitive neuroscience research findings can capture driver attention significantly more effective than their unimodal (i.e., tactile) counterparts. Multisensory displays can also be used to transmit information more efficiently, as well as to reduce driver workload. Finally, we highlight the key research questions currently awaiting further research, including questions such as: Are tactile warning signals really intuitive? Are there certain regions of the body (or in the space surrounding the body) where tactile/multisensory warning signals are particularly effective? To what extent is the spatial coincidence and temporal synchrony of the individual sensory signals critical to determining the effectiveness of multisensory displays? And, finally, how does the issue of compliance vs. reliance (or the 'cry wolf' phenomenon associated with the presentation of signals that are perceived as false alarms) influence the effectiveness of tactile and/or multisensory warning signals?

Original publication




Journal article


IEEE Trans Haptics

Publication Date





121 - 129