A tactile cockpit instrument supports the control of self-motion during spatial disorientation

Jan B F Van Erp*, Eric L. Groen, Jelte E. Bos, Hendrik A H C Van Veen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: We investigated the effectiveness of a tactile torso display as a counter-measure to spatial disorientation (SD) and compared inside-out and outside-in codings. Background: SD is a serious threat to military as well as civilian pilots and aircraft. Considerable effort has been put into SD countermeasures such as training programs and advanced cockpit displays. Tactile displays have been considered a promising technology. Method: Twenty-four participants were assigned to the two coding groups (12 per group and matched for age and gender). We used a rotating chair to build up a state of SD by rotating participants around their yaw axis followed by a sudden stop. During the following recovery phase a random disturbance signal was added to the chair's orientation. Participants actively controlled their orientation and were instructed to maintain a stable orientation. Results: Statistical analyses revealed that recovery from SD was improved with support of the tactile instrument, but tracking performance was reduced. The effects were the same whether the instrument was available full time or during the recovery phase only. There were no differences between outside-in and inside-out coding. Conclusion: The present study demonstrates the potential of tactile cockpit instruments in controlling SD, even in the presence of strong but misleading self-motion information from the vestibular sense. Application: Actual or potential applications of this research include spatial disorientation countermeasures for pilots, divers, and astronauts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-228
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


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