True-3D accentuating of grids and streets in urban topographic maps enhances human object location memory
Cognitive representations of learned map information are subject to systematic distortion errors. Map elements that divide a map surface into regions, such as content-related linear symbols (e.g. streets, rivers, railway systems) or additional artificial layers (coordinate grids), provide an orientation pattern that can help users to reduce distortions in their mental representations. In recent years, the television industry has started to establish True-3D (autostereoscopic) displays as mass media. These modern displays make it possible to watch dynamic and static images including depth illusions without additional devices, such as 3D glasses. In these images, visual details can be distributed over different positions along the depth axis. Some empirical studies of vision research provided first evidence that 3D stereoscopic content attracts higher attention and is processed faster. So far, the impact of True-3D accentuating has not yet been explored concerning spatial memory tasks and cartography. This paper reports the results of two empirical studies that focus on investigations whether True-3D accentuating of artificial, regular overlaying line features (i.e. grids) and content-related, irregular line features (i.e. highways and main streets) in official urban topographic maps (scale 1/10,000) further improves human object location memory performance. The memory performance is measured as both the percentage of correctly recalled object locations (hit rate) and the mean distances of correctly recalled objects (spatial accuracy). It is shown that the True-3D accentuating of grids (depth offset: 5 cm) significantly enhances the spatial accuracy of recalled map object locations, whereas the True-3D emphasis of streets significantly improves the hit rate of recalled map object locations. These results show the potential of True-3D displays for an improvement of the cognitive representation of learned cartographic information.