New Paper: Maintaining a Sense of Control in Autonomous Vehicles via Auditory Feedback

Authors: Beattie, D., Baillie, L., Halvey, M. and R McCall

Workshop on Perceptual Quality of Systems, Vienna.


This paper presents the findings from an observational field study conducted with 8 car drivers. The study attempted to create a taxonomy of sounds that present information to people whilst driving. We also aimed to determine whether participants noticed these sounds as they occurred and whether they paid attention to them. Furthermore, we asked the participants subjective questions regarding particular sonic attributes and their ability to catch driver’s attention. It was concluded that although certain sounds occur regularly, differing levels of attention are given to each depending on the information they present. Our study also revealed that while all sonic attributes play an impact in catching driver’s attention, some aspects are more noticeable than others. We conclude with a discussion of our future directions with regards to the findings obtained from our observational field study and outline the plan for our next study.

Download from my publications page.

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Diet Recorder App Now Available

Thanks to everyone who took part in our recent study of gamification and privacy using our Diet Recorder Application. The current study is now complete so you can stop using the app if you like!


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Five Cloud Storage Options – Quick Overview

As you can see from the rest of my blog for some odd reason I have spent a considerable time exploring different cloud storage options. The main reason is each have their own benefits, some are better for data syncing others for collaboration and others for simply sharing large files. Anyway here is a quick summary of five options I have tried out to some extent recent and that are worthy of exploring, they are in no particular order.


Wuala is cloud storage with a difference as it has inbuilt data encryption so in theory those charming people in the UK and USA who love reading your data cannot. Their encryption is not just at the point of uploading (like Box and Dropbox) but they claim that not even they can see the contents of your files (much like Mega). They offer clients for most platforms and 5GB of free space plus the ability to sync any folder, not just the selected one as is the case with Dropbox. As has been pointed out to me Wuala do not make their source code public so there is a risk of a backdoor in their application which lets them or others read your data. In general upload and download speeds are comparable to Dropbox. Unlike many other cloud solutions this one is based in the EU and Switzerland and is operated by HD manufacturer Lacie. Simple version control of files is also available.



The simple and easy option to syncing files which operates across most platforms. You get  2GB space free plus extra for each referral. In my experience Dropbox is the most widely used syncing platform and is generally reliable. Just don’t go editing documents at the same time as someone else or you end up with a clash! Upload file size is unlimited and sharing files and folders between people is quick and simple. It offers simple version control. It is one of the faster sync services. I use Dropbox everyday and so far so good although there are occasional syncing issues.

You can sign up to Dropbox here and donate some free MBs to me.


Almost identical to Dropbox but… far more powerful on account of the range of applications available that you can work with. Box is really aimed at business users, although there is a free personal account which comes with 5GB of space. Clients are available for most major platforms and syncing works well. It is more expensive than Dropbox and speed wise the free accounts in my experience are slower.


Google Drive

Provides 15GB of free storage for anything from Gmail to pictures and non-Google Docs files. It comes with a nice suite of basic office apps and integrates well with a range of third party apps (many of which are free). There are competitive pricing options if you require more space but as with all Google personal services they scan and use your data to sell you adverts. In general I like this service it works well, replaces the need for expensive office apps and is quite fast – although not as much as Dropbox.


Not a syncing solution like the others but a remote space to store files and share them. They used to offer Google Docs like apps but no more sadly. Little can be said about this except that it is good for exchanging files where people do not want to sync as there is no need for them to use a third party client. Also there are useful features such as letting other people upload to your folder and sending one time and password protected files. Upload speeds from the EU have improved to about 1.5mbps, download is about 3-4mbps. Upload speeds in many EC countries though remain far below that of other cloud solutions; making it unsuitable for really large files. Clients are available for most major platforms. Note that free accounts are not intended for long term storage but paid for ones allow this feature and are quite competitively priced. Bonus space is given under both free and paid plans if you sign up others.

You are welcome to sign up to Mediafire here and give me 1GB in the process.

Data Privacy?

I think we have to assume there is no such thing!

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Yet More Snooping In Britain

Two interesting bits of info this week in the UK, as if privacy actually mattered there. Firstly, spying bins which look for wifi signals from passing mobile phones and use them to target advertising and no doubt other data at causal passers-by. Almost entirely harmless at this point but I am am sure such data will eventually be used by the Government in some way in addition to the many other sources of location-based data that are available. To date 12 such bins have collected more than 530,000 MAC addresses (Source: Sunday Times).

The Sunday Times also reported that a company employed by a subsidiary of the much loved and one-time nearly bankrupt Royal Bank of Scotland had been covertly filming a woman (and her entire family) who was in the process of filing a multi-million pound insurance claim after she was permanently disabled following a car accident. They had been following orders to collect as many details as possible about all aspects of her and her family which included videoing the couple’s seven year old daughter in various stages of undress while bathing. I personally find the overall spying unacceptable (and also disgusting) but to stoop to that level just serves to remind us how underhand the  UK financial services sector is. The incident has apparently traumatised the children, who I should point out should never have been spied on in the first place as they are not one of the parties involved in the case. Indeed, if they will record children like that then I can only imagine what other bits of “relevant” information on people they have collected. Oh wait, other reports this week point to the stealing and blagging of private data of individuals by such companies being on a scale far worse than that undertaken by the much hated British press. Perhaps Mr Murdoch (owner of The Times) was not so evil after all…

 The above article relates to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland plc which is a subsidiary of the United States of America, inc. Both comply with absolutely no known data collection ethics or standards which would be acceptable to any normal person. In both cases the amount of data collected on you may go up as well as down.

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VW SmileDrive

Google and VW have teamed up to gamify driving, by giving points for driving more than 100 miles or when passing another VW driver – you can see where the latter is going in terms of branding and gamification 🙂 While this is only a short video it does show up some interesting concepts which are clearly designed to encourage you to think VW, my only issue is that it looks like having a similar long term interest to me as perhaps FourSquare currently holds for many. At first it is fun and interesting but after a while you think, so what?

Posted in gamification, HCI, I-GEAR, In-Car, Mobile Tech, Serious Gaming | Tagged , , | Leave a comment