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Navigation Usability Study – A Success Story

In the beginning of 2010, Metric Lab conducted a study on a new navigation feature for Microsoft’s Bing™ for mobile app. The study sought to understand how people interact with navigation systems while driving an automobile.

Studies that involve live driving can be challenging due to the risk involved with having a participant drive a vehicle while also interacting with a separate system. The study also had to be conducted on both city streets and interstate highways during busy traffic times, compounding the safety issue. Fortunately, Metric Lab had experience with this type of research having conducted similar studies for the U.S. Military.

In order to ensure the safety of participants, researchers and other people on the road, we used a dual control (drive controls on the passenger side also) vehicle as well as a licensed California driving instructor to act as a safety driver. The safety driver’s responsibility was to monitor the vehicle and traffic at all times and ensure that participants did nothing unsafe, ready to take control of the vehicle if necessary. Metric Lab also scouted and constructed a route that accomplished all of the goals of the study such as making a tight sequence of turns, driving several miles on the highway before making a turn, and finding a specific place of business. Finally, we employed a high definition video camera, hi-fidelity audio equipment, and a screen capture tool.

The details of the study are confidential but it was a huge success. Metric Lab was able to gather all of the necessary data to help build a very progressive and useful navigation system for Bing. Our friends at Microsoft were extremely pleased with the results and even made a small video that shows the team and equipment used to complete the project. Check it out!