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How Much Information Do You Need?: Schematic Maps in Wayfinding and Self Localisation


Meilinger,  T
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Meilinger, T., Hölscher C, Büchner, S., & Brösamle, M. (2007). How Much Information Do You Need?: Schematic Maps in Wayfinding and Self Localisation. Spatial Cognition V Reasoning, Action, Interaction: International Conference Spatial Cognition 2006, 381-400.

The paper is concerned with the empirical investigation of different types of schematised maps. In two experiments a standard floor plan was compared to three strongly schematised maps providing only route knowledge. With the help of one of the maps, the participants had to localise themselves in two tasks and performed two wayfinding tasks in a multi-level building they didn’t know before. We recorded map usage time and a range of task performance measures. Although the map provided much less information, participants performed better in wayfinding with an unambiguous schematic map than with a floor plan. In the self localisation tasks, participants performed equally well with the detailed floor plan and with the schematised map versions. Like the users of a schematic map, users of a floor map presumably oriented on the network structure rather than on local geometric features. This allows them to limit the otherwise potentially very large search space in map-based self localisation. In both types of tasks participants looked at the schematised maps for a shorter time. Providing less than standard information like in a highly schematised map can lead to better performance. We conclude that providing unambiguous turning information (route knowledge) rather than survey knowledge is most crucial for wayfinding in unknown environments.