Wayfinding is an important component of navigation. During navigation, we have to make a series of correct spatial decisions in order to reach the desired destination from an origin. Wayfinding can be separated into four processes namely orientation, route planning, route monitoring and recognition of the destination. In most cases during wayfinding we use assistance aids in order to ease the decision making process, such as cartographic maps or digital devices, e.g., mobile maps and other novel digital systems.

In our research group we try to get insights and unfold the process of wayfinding. We aim at understanding the problems that might occur and at the same time reveal successful strategies that wayfinders use in order to successfully reach their destination.

In our work we perform empirical experiments in order to observe how wayfinders act in real, but also virtual environments.

Currently, next to wayfinding assistance systems we are focusing on modeling the complexity of a decision situation as well as on the implementation of a prediction model for optimal timing of pedestrian navigation instructions.

Wayfinding Assistance

Pedestrian navigation systems help us make a series of decisions that lead us to a destination. Most current pedestrian navigation systems communicate using map-based turn-by turn instructions. This interaction mode suffers from ambiguity, its user’s ability to match the instruction with the environment, and it requires a redirection of visual attention from the environment to the screen. In our research, we focus on Navigation Assistance for pedestrian navigation aiming at overcoming these problems and at the same time increase the user experience and decrease the cognive load.

Timing of Navigation Instructions

During pedestrian navigation in outdoor urban environments we often utilize assistance systems to support decision-making. These systems help wayfinders by providing relevant information withing the context of their surroundings, e.g., landmark-based instructions of the type “turn left at the church”. Next to the instruction type and content, also the timing of the instruction must be considered in order to facilitate the wayfinding process. In our research we focus on the user and environmental factors that have an impact on the timing of instructions. We perform experiment in real, but also in realistic virtual environment in order to analyze the expected distance to the decision point until instructions are needed. Timing of Pedestrian Navigation Instructions.

Wayfinding Complexity

In order to reach a target destination, we have to make a series of wayfinding decisions of varying complexity. Previous research has focused on classifying the complexity of these wayfinding decisions, primarily looking at the complexity of the decision point itself (e.g., the number of possible routes or branches). In our research, we are also incorporating the user, instructions, and environmental factors into our modeling process in order to assess the Complexity of a wayfinding decision.