Within the Human Factors Research Group (HFRG) we possess a wide range of technical facilities which are used research and consultancy projects, undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.
Usability and Ergonomics Evaluation
The Usability and Ergonomics facilities offer the opportunity to undertake research and projects using video and data capture. We are able to conduct usability and ergonomics evaluation studies in which behaviour can be observed and measured using specialised techniques and methodologies including postural analysis, electromyography (EMG), force measurement, video analysis, eye tracking and anthropometric measurement.
Virtual Reality, 3D visualisation and interaction tools
We use 3D technologies both to evaluate the technologies themselves for different applications, and also as ergonomics design and simulation tools. To this end we have a range of devices which can be configured as required for any particular study we are engaged in. These devices include - Oculus DK1 and DK2 head mounted displays, Alienware graphics amplifier, Leap Motion controllers, Kinect sensors, and Samsung S7 phones with GearVR and various cardboard head mounted displays. We can supplement these VR technologies with standard games controllers or more custom devices such as Arduino based prototyping tools.
Our interactive driving simulator is one of the most sophisticated university facilities in the UK. The simulator comprises an Audi TT car located within a curved screen, providing 270° forward and side image of the driving scene via three overhead HD projectors. Rear-view images are relayed to two LCD screens located to replicate the side mirrors and a 55-inch curved LED television positioned behind the vehicle and visible using the existing interior rear-view mirror. A force feedback steering wheel and pedal set are faithfully integrated with the existing Audi steering wheel and pedals, such that drivers interact with the original hardware. In addition, the indicators and electrical controls remain fully operational within the vehicle. Speed information etc. is presented on a configurable LCD screen within the vehicle to mimic the instrument cluster. The core driving simulator software enables the researcher to manipulate the driving experience to investigate issues of interest, for example, by inducing a safety-critical event such as the car in front suddenly breaking or a pedestrian walking out in front of the driver, with a large number of driver behaviour and performance variables measured by the software (e.g. speed variability, lane position, time/distance to lead vehicle etc.). In addition, the simulator interior is fully configurable to allow the integration of novel or bespoke technological solutions or prototypes, allowing issues such as driver distraction, workload and acceptance to be investigated.
Our train simulator is based on a 319 commuter class train. The virtual environments consist of a geotypical route. Rail infrastructure dimensioning, styling and positioning within the virtual environment follows railway group standards. For experimental purposes inside the simulator are bespoke video camera mounts manufactured and fitted to three areas within the cab. Also a mount was fitted above the seat to enable a camera to be pointed straight down at the cab controls. A vibration unit was manufactured by attaching an off-centre cam to a small motor unit and fitting it into the base of the cab unit. This simulates the vibration that would be felt by the driver in the cab from the engine vibrating, it was set at a constant speed which could be turned on or off. An audio unit consisting of two speakers were fitted into the cab.