Function selection among popular dive computer models: A review and proposed improvements
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© 2014 Society for Underwater Technology. All rights reserved. For optimal safety a dive computer should be easy to use and the displayed information easy to understand. The present study examines the usability of dive computers and potential technologies to enhance safety. It should be noted that even if the ease of use of a dive computer is increased to an extent where it is intuitive to use, this does not release the diver from the recommendation to read the dive computer manual to safely dive with it.For the present work, 47 dive computer models by 14 manufacturers were purchased and the manuals of another three were studied. Function selection was noted for each model. Where selection required a combination of long and short pushes, or more than one button, it was considered necessary to read the instruction manual merely to modify settings in the dive computer.The mean number of buttons, switches or contacts per dive computer was 3.3 (SD 1.1, range 1–7). Twelve models (24%) did not have multiple functions per button, one model (2%) had a single multi-function and 36 models (72%) had multiple multi-functions per button. Accessing these functions required short or long push combinations. In 41 out of 50 (82%) of the dive computer models, the user interface was not intuitive.The majority of popular dive computers employ combinations of long and short pushes to access multiple functions, requiring training and mnemonic effort to operate the device. They are not intuitive, and scope exists to improve the usability and safety of dive computers. Possibilities are described including touch screens, a wheel to replace traditional buttons and near field communications (NFC).
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