The use of head mounted displays (HMDs) in high angle climbing : implications for the application of wearable computers to emergency response work.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
As wearable computers become more ubiquitous in society and work environments, there are concerns that their use could be negatively impactful in some settings. Previous research indicates that mobile phone and wearable computer use can impair walking and driving performance, but as these technologies are adopted into hazardous work environments it is less clear what the impact will be. The current research investigated the effects that head mounted display use has on high angle climbing, a task representative of the extreme physical demands of some hazardous occupations (such as firefighting or search and rescue work). We explored the effect that introducing a secondary word reading and later recall task has on both climbing performance (holds per meter climbed and distance covered), and word reading and recall (dual-task effects). We found a decrease in both climbing performance and word recall under dual task conditions. Further, we examined participant climbing motion around word presentation and non-word presentation times during the climbing traverse. We found that participants slowed around word presentations, relative to periods without word presentation. Finally, we compared our results to those found in previous research using similar dual-tasking paradigms. These comparisons indicated that physical tasks may be more detrimental to word recall than seated tasks, and that visual stimuli might hinder climbing performance more than audible stimuli. This research has important theoretical implications for the dual-tasking paradigm, as well at important practical implications for emergency response operations and other hazardous working environments.