Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


WayTO Report Summary

Project ID: 637645
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WayTO (Wayfinding Through Orientation)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Wayfinding is a task that we manage every day while going to work, visiting friends, or going on vacation. With the emergence of car and pedestrian navigation systems, we gained support for wayfinding tasks in unfamiliar environments. Although wayfinding research has gone through tremendous development, with cognitive aspects particularly attracting interest in research, it suffers from some fundamental shortcomings: State-of-the art wayfinding research still adheres to the principles of turn-by-turn navigation. At each decision point, users receive the next turn instruction guiding them towards the destination. The user has no orientation and no overview of the surrounding environment. Turn-by-turn navigation is cognitively not adequate: When humans do wayfinding, they do not execute instructions separately one after another, but they learn the spatial configuration during wayfinding and build up cognitive maps to orient themselves. Because turn-by-turn navigation solely communicates directions at decision points, it supports only the acquisition of route knowledge. It does not support the user’s very own habit in gaining orientation in unfamiliar environment.

This project aims at developing new means of wayfinding based on orientation: Recent research enhanced navigation systems by making navigation instructions easier to understand through intuitive landmark information, through simpler decision points, and through easier routes. However, this research does not tackle the fundamental problems of turn-by-turn navigation. We argue that orientation information is more suitable for wayfinding assistance: It supports users in acquiring survey knowledge, because it communicates wayfinding information that helps users to mentally build up a two-dimensional map of her environment. This cognitive map is used for orientation. Being oriented on your way is a precondition to enable people to verify wayfinding instructions. A cognitive map of the environment allows users to adapt their way according to unforeseen changes, finding shortcuts, circumnavigating obstacles or spontaneously making detour trips to points of interest. Fig. 1 contrasts spatial knowledge learned from turn-by-turn wayfinding with spatial knowledge learned from orientation wayfinding. From turn-by-turn wayfinding, users only learn the sequence of turns that need to be taken. The survey knowledge learned with orientation wayfinding will allow the user to get an overview of the route and the surrounding environment and integrate various types of spatial information into her 2-dimensional cognitive map.

In this project, we have four objectives:

Objective 1: Scientific Understanding of Orientation Wayfinding. Research needs find out what defines orientation in humans and what kind of information supports orientation. We need to prove the hypothesis that cognitive maps and survey knowledge directly relate to orientation.

Objective 2: Automatic Generation of Orientation Information. For computer-supported wayfinding assistance we must be able to handle orientation information automatically. However, orientation information has some fundamentally different characteristics than conventional spatial data stored in geographic information systems. Orientation information does not have a consistent level of generalization, it is highly schematized and it refers to vernacular, vague places not included in traditional maps. Furthermore, the level of generalization and schematization of orientation information depends on the route.

Objective 3: Communication of Orientation Information. We will integrate orientation instructions into route directions. New visualizations will be required to account for the characteristics of orientation information: How can we represent schematized spatial objects with vague boundaries and inhomogeneous levels of generalization in a single map on small displays of mobile devices used for navigation? Which spatial characteristics of traditional maps may remain?

Objective 4: Evaluation of Paradigm Wayfinding Through Orientation. Wayfinding Through Orientation supports human spatial learning and orientation. Thus, the success of orientation systems cannot be determined through traditional measures such as travel time. We require new methods to determine the effect of orientation information on peoples’ ability to solve wayfinding tasks that require orientation and cognitive mapping.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Major Achievements:

The project developed a detailed definition of orientation and a new taxonomy on wayfinding assistance systems including systems that are based on orientation wayfinding. We increased the awareness for orientation wayfinding in the scientific community by editing a special issue and organizing a workshop.
We have completed three experiments and three other studies are still ongoing. With the empirical data that we collected, we could show
(i) that people extensively use orientation information in their wayfinding instructions. First results indicate that there might be a difference between Americans and Europeans: Americans seem to be using less often orientation information. However this is still subject of a larger study.
(ii) orientation information has an effect on spatial knowledge of people and people structure (and distort) their cognitive map according to global landmarks (orientation information).
(iii) people are able to use our prototype for the future orientation wayfinding assistance system
The results have led to 12 scientific publications listed below.
We also presented the project at major events and the local media has been interested in WayTO and published newspaper articles about the project.

Results and Achievements per Work Package and Task:

Work Package 1 (Staff: Schwering, Krukar, Löwen)
Task 1.1: We have been developing a work in progress definition on orientation and suggested a new classification scheme for wayfinding tasks and wayfinding assistance systems. Results have been published in [P 1], [P 2], [P 9], [P 12].
Task 1.2 A study revealed that people extensively use orientation information in their study. People judged orientation instructions as helpful in wayfinding. The results of this study have been published in [P 7]. A second study, still ongoing, compared orientation information wayfinding instructions to wayfinding instructions in the turn-by-turn method and to wayfinding instructions with spatial chunking as developed by Alex Klippel. This study revealed that visual instructions with orientation information have an advantage in the number of landmarks / orientation information recalled and the precision and completeness of wayfinding instructions. Due to the delayed start of Heinrich Löwen in the WayTO project, empirical data gathering is still going on.
Task 1.3 and Task 1.4: Although Löwen started his PhD with a delay, he has already supported the project during his MSc degree as student assistant. In his MSc thesis, he has been working on a topic related to task 1.3 and 1.4. Results lead to [P 8].
Löwen has submitted his PhD proposal, describing mainly research in work package 1, at the doctoral colloquium at 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT) [P 13].

Work Package 2 (Staff: Schwering, Krukar, Galvao)
Task 2.1: Preliminary work was done on investigating representations of places with unclear spatial extent in sketch maps. The results of empirical work and the analysis of vague places have led to two publications [P 5], [P 10].
Task 2.2: scheduled start: September 17
Task 2.3: Galvao has been focussing on map schematization that support global orientation. Together with the student assistant Oleg Stepanov, they have developed several tools to test and compare various algorithms in map schematization. First results have been published in [P 6].
Galvao has submitted his PhD proposal, describing mainly research in work package 2, at the doctoral colloquium at the 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT) [P 14].

Work Package 3:
Start scheduled for September 17.

Work Package 4 (Staff: Schwering, Krukar):
Task 4.1: We explored suitable measures for orientation and the usefulness of orientation information (e.g. usage and correctness of global landmarks, completeness of wayfinding instructions, correctness of pointing). We conducted a series of experiments and published them in [P 1].
A large study in cooperation with Stefan Münzer (University of Mannheim) and Julia Frankenstein (University of Darmstadt) with more than 1000 participants in 3 different German cities on the relevance of orientation information in a (spatial) planning scenario is still ongoing. Data collection is complete. The data analysis is expected to be finished mid of this year.
In cooperation with the DFG funded project “SketchMapia” at the university of Muenster, we are developing a tool to automatically analyze orientation information in sketch maps. The results will be a software implementation that supports the experimenter to semi-automatically analyze sketch maps. The implementation is still work in progress.
Schwering has published a paper together with the visiting researcher Prof. Dr. Rui Li on the research direction wayfinding through orientation at the UCGIS specialist meeting to increase the awareness for this research in the US [P 11].
To increase the awareness of this research direction, Krukar, Schwering, and Anacta edited a special issue on landmark-based navigation in cognitive systems [P 2]. This has lead the publications [P 3], [P 4].

[P 1] Schwering, A. Krukar, J. Li, R. Anacta, V. J. Fuest, S. (in print): Wayfinding Through Orientation, Spatial Cognition and Computation
[P 2] Krukar J, Schwering A, Anacta VJ (2017): Special issue on “Landmark-Based Navigation in Cognitive Systems”, Journal KI - Künstliche Intelligenz
[P 3] Krukar, J., Schwering, A., & Anacta, V. J. (2017). Landmark-Based Navigation in Cognitive Systems. KI - Künstliche Intelligenz (Editorial), p. 1–4.
[P 4] Krukar, J., Hölscher, C., & Conroy Dalton, R. (2017). Indoor Wayfinding: Interview with Christoph Hölscher and Ruth Conroy Dalton. KI - Künstliche Intelligenz, 1–7.
[P 5] Anacta,VJ; Humayun, MI, Schwering,A; Krukar, J (2017): Investigating representations of places with unclear spatial extent in sketch maps, 20th AGILE 2017 International Conference
[P 6] Galvao, M.; Ramos, F.; Lamar, M.; Taco, P. (2017): Dynamic Visualization Of Transit Information Using Genetic Algorithms For Path Schematization, GIS Ostrava 2017 - Dynamics in GIscience
[P 7] Anacta, VJA, Schwering, A, Li, R and Muenzer, S. Orientation information in wayfinding instructions: evidences from human verbal and visual instructions. GeoJournal (2016). doi:10.1007/s10708-016-9703-5
[P 8] Löwen, H., Schwering A., Krukar J, Winter Stephan (2017): Perspectives in externalizations of mental spatial representations. In A. Bregt, T. Sarjakoski, R. van Lammeren, & F. Rip (Eds.), Proceedings of the 20th AGILE International Conference on Geographic Information Science (pp. 111–127). Wageningen, The Netherlands: Springer.
[P 9] Krukar, J.; Schwering, A. (2016). What is Orientation? In T. B. Barkowsky, Z. Falomir Llansola, H. Schultheis, & J. van de Ven (Eds.), KogWis: 13th Biannual Conference of the German Cognitive Science Society (pp. 115–117). Bremen, Germany.
[P 10] Anacta,VJA, Krukar,J, Humayun,MI, Schwering,A (2016): Visualizing salient features in spatial descriptions, European Workshop on Image and Cognition (EWIC), Paris, France.
[P 11] Li, R.; Schwering, A. (2016): Cognitively driven design in geospatial technologies: achieving spatial intelligence in both systems and humans in everyday activities, UCGIS Research Challenges Initiative at the 2016 UCGIS Symposium
[P 12] Padmanaban, R. and Krukar, J. (2016): Increasing the Density of Local Landmarks in Wayfinding Instructions for the Visually Impaired. In Huang, H. and Gartner, G., editors, Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography . Springer, Vienna, Austria

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Existing research in cognitive wayfinding improved navigation in various respects, but never questioned the paradigm of wayfinding itself. We propose the new paradigm Wayfinding Through Orientation, where the navigation system supports the user in orienting, spatial learning and cognitive mapping. Although researchers agree that survey knowledge is equally important to route knowledge and that survey knowledge substantially contributes to cognitive mapping and orientation, so far (to the best of our knowledge) no researcher used survey or orientation information to improve wayfinding.
Even though orientation wayfinding has never been investigated by other researchers before, we believe that it will revolutionize the way of navigation: Wayfinding Through Orientation has a completely new understanding of a person’s role in navigation. Orientation wayfinding involves users’ in the navigation process through addressing the users’ cognitive learning and thinking abilities. It makes users less dependent on the navigation system, more self-confident and sensible to their environment. Users can make informed choices and are able to adapt their route according to unforeseen changes. Users will be able to find shortcuts, circumnavigate new obstacles or spontaneously make detour trips. Being oriented and having an overview of the environment is necessary to verify and understand wayfinding instructions. In contrast, users of turn-by-turn systems solely execute given turn instructions.
Our research has profound impact in all the three disciplines involved: The new definition of orientation in wayfinding and the new methods to measure orientation contribute to cognitive science. The new approaches to capture, process, and communicate orientation information are major contributions for geographic information science and computer science. Our research lays the scientific foundations for future navigation systems following the Wayfinding Through Orientation paradigm.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top