Reimer, B., Mehler, B. Joseph F. & Coughlin, J. (2012). An evaluation of typeface design in a text-rich automotive user interface. Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab & New England University Transportation Center.
This paper reports on the results of a project examining the impact of typeface design on glance behavior away from the roadway when a driver interacts with a multi-line menu display designed to model a text-rich automotive human machine interface (HMI). Data from two studies are considered. Across the two studies, usable data was collected from 82 participants ranging from 36 to 75 years of age in a driving simulation experiment in which participants were asked to respond to a series of address, restaurant identification, and content search menus that were implemented using two different typeface designs. The second study served as a replication of the first with the sole exception that the brightness of the display screen was changed. Across the two studies, among men, a “humanist” typeface resulted in a 10.6% lower visual demand as measured by total glance time as compared to the “square grotesque” typeface. Total response time and number of glances required to complete a response showed similar patterns. Interestingly, the impact of different typeface style was either more modest or not apparent for women on these variables. Error rates for both males and females were 3.1% less for the humanist typeface. This research suggests that optimizing typeface characteristics may be viewed as a simple and effective method of providing a significant reduction in interface demand and associated distractions. Future work will need to assess if other typeface characteristics can be tuned to provide further reductions in demand.