Target Finding with a Spatially Aware Handheld Chart Display


Objective: The objective was to evaluate the use of a spatially aware handheld chart display in a comparison with a track-up fixed display configuration and to investigate how cognitive strategies vary when performing the task of matching chart symbols with environmental features under different display geometries and task constraints.

Background: Small-screen devices containing both accelerometers and magnetometers support the development of spatially aware handheld maps. These can be designed so that symbols representing targets in the external world appear in a perspective view determined by the orientation of the device.

Method: A panoramic display was used to simulate a marine environment. The task involved matching targets in the scene to symbols on simulated chart displays. In Experiment 1, a spatially aware handheld chart display was compared to a fixed track-up chart display. In Experiment 2, a gaze monitoring system was added and the distance between the chart display and the scene viewpoint was varied.

Results: All respondents were faster with the handheld device. Novices were much more accurate with the handheld device. People allocated their gaze very differently if they had to move between a map display and a view of the environment.

Conclusion: There may be important benefits to spatially aware handheld displays in reducing errors relating to common navigation tasks.

Application: Both the difficulty of spatial transformations and the allocation of attention should be considered in the design of chart displays.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Human Factors


54, Number 6




Sage Publications

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article