Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Name

MS in Industrial Engineering

Department

Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Advisor

Reza Pouraghabagher

Abstract

The growth of touchscreen technology has changed the way users interface with a wide range of computing and communication products and systems. Examples range from personal tablets and laptops to industrial applications such as process control, point-of-sales, and ticketing kiosk systems. An important area of application is the automobile industry which is designing cars with touchscreen control panels to replace the previously designed mechanical knobs and buttons. However, interacting with touchscreens does not provide the same tactile feedback as physical mechanisms, therefore they require more precise movement and visual attention, which distracts the user from the primary task.

The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the optimal location of small touchscreen devices with respect to the user and her/his ability to perform secondary touchscreen tasks. Specifically, the goal was to see if there is a significant interaction between the user's gender and utilization of the touch pad by her/his preferred versus non-preferred hand. A randomized, between-subject experiment was designed and tested using five independent two-way ANOVAs. Each ANOVA tested a different type of touchscreen interaction; button clicking, dragging and typing, with typing further broken down into three two-way ANOVAs based on word length. Results indicate that in typical tasks such as navigation and selecting thumbnails there are no significant interaction or main effects with hand dominance and gender as the factors. There was a significant interaction for dragging tasks (p-value = .056) with females performing better with their dominant hand, whereas males performed better with their non-dominant hand. There was also a significant main effect for typing three letter words. Gender was the source of variability (p-value=.066) with females completing the task faster than males. Four and five letter words had no significant interaction or main effects. However, with a larger sample size there is a possibility for more significant findings. Qualitative results also revealed some important patterns which complimented the quantitative results and should be taken into consideration by designers of these systems. This study examined a small sample of different factors that may affect the use of touchscreens, and simulates just one application. There are still questions that should be answered in order to best utilize touchscreen technology. Future research in relation to touchscreens in automobiles could include testing effects of car speed, driving conditions and ideal height, angle and distance placement of screen.

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