Aurally Aided Visual Threat Acquisition in a Virtual Urban Battlespace

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Conference Proceeding

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Many of today’s military operations take place in large urban environments, which present unique challenges due to limited line of sight and increased concealment for enemy forces. This experiment evaluated the potential of a 3D audio display to aid threat detection and localization in a complex visual environment. Subjects rode as part of a convoy through a simulated city where they encountered snipers surrounded by distracting personnel. We compared 3D audio cues to verbal descriptions of the sniper’s location and to simple audio warnings of the presence of a sniper. Consistent with past research, subjects located the sniper more quickly in the 3D audio condition compared to both the semantic description and simple warning conditions. The 3D audio display was faster than the other displays across all azimuths but, in contrast to previous findings, the advantage did not increase consistently with increasing azimuth.


Presented at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 56th Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, October 22-26, 2012.



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