Hum Factors. 2013 Aug;55(4):697-724. doi: 10.1177/0018720813476298.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to integrate empirical data showing the effects of interrupting task modality on the performance of an ongoing visual-manual task and the interrupting task itself. The goal is to support interruption management and the design of multimodal interfaces.
BACKGROUND: Multimodal interfaces have been proposed as a promising means to support interruption management.To ensure the effectiveness of this approach, their design needs to be based on an analysis of empirical data concerning the effectiveness of individual and redundant channels of information presentation.
METHOD: Three meta-analyses were conducted to contrast performance on an ongoing visual task and interrupting tasks as a function of interrupting task modality (auditory vs. tactile, auditory vs. visual, and single modality vs. redundant auditory-visual). In total, 68 studies were included and six moderator variables were considered.
RESULTS: The main findings from the meta-analyses are that response times are faster for tactile interrupting tasks in case of low-urgency messages.Accuracy is higher with tactile interrupting tasks for low-complexity signals but higher with auditory interrupting tasks for high-complexity signals. Redundant auditory-visual combinations are preferable for communication tasks during high workload and with a small visual angle of separation.
CONCLUSION: The three meta-analyses contribute to the knowledge base in multimodal information processing and design. They highlight the importance of moderator variables in predicting the effects of interruption task modality on ongoing and interrupting task performance.
APPLICATIONS: The findings from this research will help inform the design of multimodal interfaces in data-rich, event-driven domains.