Fighting Technology Dumb Down: Our Cognitive Capacity for Effortful AR Navigation Tools

  • James Wen
  • Agnes Deneka
  • William S. Helton
  • Andreas Dünser
  • Mark Billinghurst
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8512)


By overlaying virtual guidance information directly over the surrounding environment, Augmented Reality (AR) is seen as an easy alternative to maps for pedestrians navigating in unfamiliar urban environments. It is hypothesized, however, that easing navigation tasks would result in weaker cognitive maps, leaving users more vulnerable to becoming lost should their navigation device fail. We describe an outdoor navigation study that highlighted the gap between theoretical expectations and real world testing with navigation tools. We addressed the issues by creating a simulation system for testing navigation tools and report on the results of a study comparing AR with maps. We then extended the system to support simultaneous secondary tasks to assess relative workload. We present this as a way of objectively measuring relative cognitive effort expended on navigation tool use. Our findings are helpful in the design of mobile pedestrian navigation tools seeking to balance navigational efficiency with mental map formation.


pedestrian navigation augmented reality maps cognitive load virtual environment spatial knowledge acquisition 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Wen
    • 1
  • Agnes Deneka
    • 2
  • William S. Helton
    • 1
  • Andreas Dünser
    • 3
  • Mark Billinghurst
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  3. 3.CSIROTasmaniaAustralia

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