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Proceedings Paper

Visual conspicuity of objects in complex scenes
Author(s): Theo Boersema; Harm J. G. Zwaga
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Paper Abstract

In many everyday situations people have to locate a particular object in a cluttered environment, for instance a routing sign among commercial signs in an airport terminal. The object's conspicuity determines the efficiency of the search. The literature on human visual search does not unequivocally answer the question how a cluttered environment affects target conspicuity. A method was developed and validated to measure target conspicuity and the effect of distractors, using the case of routing signs (blue with white lettering) and commercial signs (non-blue) in large public buildings as a vehicle. The stimulus fields are complex, computer-generated images, which mimic natural scenes in public buildings but have no apparent meaning. Target conspicuity is operationalized as the time a subject needs to locate the target; this search time is derived from the subject's eye movements. To avoid artifacts of perceptual learning, the number of trials per subject is limited. Experiments in which this method was used clearly demonstrated that conspicuity results from the combined action of the object's own physical properties in relation to those of its environment and of the observer's perceptual and cognitive properties and current intention. Thus, conspicuity never depends merely on the characteristics of the visual stimulus.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 June 2000
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 3959, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging V, (2 June 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.387189
Show Author Affiliations
Theo Boersema, Delft Univ. of Technology (Netherlands)
Harm J. G. Zwaga, Utrecht Univ. (Netherlands)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3959:
Human Vision and Electronic Imaging V
Bernice E. Rogowitz; Thrasyvoulos N. Pappas, Editor(s)

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