Heterogeneity in auditory alarm sets makes them easier to learn
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The primary objective of the experiments reported here was to demonstrate the effects of opening up the design envelope for auditory alarms on the ability of people to learn the meanings of a set of alarms. Two sets of alarms were tested, one already extant and one newly-designed set for the same set of functions, designed according to a rationale set out by the authors aimed at increasing the heterogeneity of the alarm set and incorporating some well-established principles of alarm design. For both sets of alarms, a similarity-rating experiment was followed by a learning experiment. The results showed that the newly-designed set was judged to be more internally dissimilar, and easier to learn, than the extant set. The design rationale outlined in the paper is useful for design purposes in a variety of practical domains and shows how alarm designers, even at a relatively late stage in the design process, can improve the efficacy of an alarm set. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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