Human-Centred Design of Digital Escape Route Signage with Age as a Diversity Dimension in High-Stress Evacuation Situations
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Modern cruise ships often have capacities for over 5,000 people and lengths of several hundred metres. The high mental, emotional and physical demands during evacuations of passenger ships are particularly problematic, as cruises are highly popular amongst elderly people, who often have deteriorated perceptual, cognitive and physical abilities. The overall aim of this thesis is to enhance safety in evacuation situations by human-centred design of new situation-adaptive digital escape route signage. The three conducted experimental studies with decision-making tasks and partly with movement interaction on inclined surfaces to simulate tilted ships have shown that digital escape route signage effectively influences the decisions for directions of young and elderly people under mentally, emotionally and physically challenging conditions. The results were persistent even with competing environmental cues, such as brighter corridors, and updates of the displayed escape directions, e.g. because of fire. Integrated dynamic elements and information on recent updates were beneficial, whereas prohibitions of alternative directions negatively affected trust and direction decisions. Decision times and consistencies indicated contrary tendencies of decreased information processing and rash decision-making under high mental, emotional and physical strain, which was assessed by subjective ratings, eye tracking and electromyography.